“I live in Linden. So I'm wanting to contribute to Linden to be the very best that they can be; and I consider Linden to really be a jewel, a gem, within the City of Columbus”.
All Photos Courtesy of Jehan LLC Photography
Ms. Peggy A. Williams, affectionately known as Ms. Peg, has dedicated herself to the betterment of her community throughout her adult life. Her parents instilled in her values of giving back to her community and the significance of God in her life. Ms. Peg was born in Detroit, Michigan, but has called Linden home. She worked as an administrative assistant and childcare provider and served as an area commissioner. She currently serves as a history interpreter with the Ohio History Connection. She now has the opportunity to reflect on the historical and current impacts of the Linden community.
Appointed in 2011, and serving under the leadership of George Walker, Jr. and Carmen Allen, she served as secretary for the South Linden Area Commission. Able to attend city council meetings, receive in-depth training, and view the governmental side of grassroots organizing, Ms. Peg admires the dedication and understanding that goes into bettering a community. “We as the grassroots, we need to go beyond that [just mailing neighbors]. The city is dependent upon our view, in order for them to make the very best decision to benefit that community that I live in, the community we live in, the City of Columbus, and Franklin County.I come to understand that we're grassroots politics, and we shouldn't be afraid or ashamed to say ‘I'm in the political arena’ because guess what? If you vote, you’re political. So I just tell people, you are political, period. Politics is just policy to establish rules. You don't want to have a say in rules that's being made that's going to impact your daily lives. So we have those kinds of things, so I had those conversations with my neighbor.”
Listening to her neighbors and community, Ms. Peg has led community efforts that responded to collective needs. “My neighbors ask, ‘Why are you picking up that trash?’ I said because you, ethically, have a right to live in a clean environment. That's your right. The area commission launched a joint campaign with Answer Poverty, with the Linden Life Fellowship Church and members of the faith-based community. With parental permission to participate, we paid children and volunteers went around Linden cleaning the streets. The children were so stoked, but it has just been us, and just been me [cleaning]. It's just you getting out the show yourself as friendly, and that you're interested enough to be the change.”
Ms. Peg became involved in her community from her experiences in childcare, “I saw a need as a commissioner. There was an occasion where I had to be taken out of the classroom in order to have a community leader conversation with the mayor. In my mind, while that may have been an isolated case, there might be more times when that would be necessary. So I saw the need to help children or prepare the future for children in this role as a commissioner, versus just being a classroom teacher.”
Ms. Peg’s support system has enabled her to take on this role to serve. Who does she consider part of this system? “Everybody. So many people have influenced me, and they've been encouraging to me, and I consider, I'm the one that's being trained. They have the expertise, they have the network wealth, they know the connections and they point me in the right direction. Not only do they point me in the right direction, they get up in my face, and they tell me the truth. We all need to hear the truth of the times in order to help steer you where you need to be doing your work and doing your service. So anybody that comes in contact with me, is my support system because we're supporting each other whatever work that we're wanting to do.”
Ms. Peg is already blessed with her superpower, her love of people. One can find her walking in her neighborhood, which extends beyond Linden, to Weinland Park and Clintonville, the communities immediately surrounding the Ohio History Center, continuing her work by experiencing and engaging the community.