A photo of Jorge Neyra and Claire Neyra displaying the Peruvian flag as they get ready to perform a salsa dance at a Peruvian Mother's Day celebration on May 6, 2023.
Jorge Neyra and Claire Neyra display the Peruvian flag as they get ready to perform a salsa dance at a Peruvian Mother's Day celebration on May 6, 2023. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

I’m Stephanie Casanova, community safety reporter for Signal Cleveland. I took a detour from my beat to tell this story about Three Latin American countries making history at Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Listen to the podcast below.

As the Latin American population grows in Cuyahoga County and Northeast Ohio, the Latine community is organizing to showcase their rich cultures and histories at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. 

Colombia will be the first Latin American country represented in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. But it won’t be the only Latine garden for long. Mexican and Peruvian organizations are following suit. (Latine is a gender-neutral term some people use instead of Latino or Latina.)

Between 1980 and 2020, the Cleveland metro area’s Hispanic and Latine populations grew from about 39,000 to 133,900, according to “Reflections on the 2020 Census: Trends in Cleveland’s Hispanic and Latino Population,” according to a paper by Richey Piiparinen, director of urban theory and analytics for the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Peruvians, Colombians and Mexicans are supporting one another’s garden efforts and seeing support from other Latinos in Cleveland. 

Hector Castellanos Lara, a Guatemalan visual artist, has been supportive of all three Latin American groups raising funds for their gardens. 

He told Signal Cleveland that people from countries without a garden are comforted by knowing they have Latin American neighbors creating these spaces.

Fundraising continues for the Columbian garden with an event in October:

Carnaval Colombiano
Rocky River Memorial Hall
21016 Hilliard Boulevard
Rocky River

Oct. 14, 4:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.