Even though Gary Dangel has been retired for 12 years, he is busier than ever. As a resident of Walnut Hills for the past 30 years, he saw things that needed to be done in his neighborhood and got to work. He hasn’t stopped since.
“[Walnut Hills] is a neighborhood that’s on the rise. It’s a neighborhood that’s had its difficulties but is coming back,” said Dangel. “I saw a lot of problems in the neighborhood. The saying goes, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and I thought that was pretty good advice.”
He started small, volunteering with KCB’s Vacant Lots Occupied program in 2014. The project was focused around taking vacant lots, cleaning them up, and “activating them.” Dangel liked this project because he had been mapping the numerous vacant lots in his neighborhood and wondered how he could “taking something that was a negative and make it positive.” And that’s what he’s been doing since.
Before he retired, Dangel was a graphic designer. He still considers himself a graphic designer “just not a graphic designer for pay.” He now uses his seasoned communication skills to improve the public’s perception of his neighborhood.
“A lot of promotion that’s done at a neighborhood level is not very sophisticated and lacks effectiveness,” said Dangle.
His first task was developing a brand identity for his neighborhood. Dangel noticed that the only time Walnut Hills was on the news was when something bad happened. When he told a news station that, they responded, “Give us a good reason to come here and we will.”
Since then Dangel has given the local news plenty of positives in Walnut Hills to cover, and they have. He cofounded Elevate Walnut Hills, a community engagement group made up of residents and businesses vigilantly dedicated to making their community stronger and better.
Recently Dangel graciously volunteered his design skills to create the promotional material for KCB’s first public service announcement, The Philanthrop. The design reflects a classic movie poster featuring iconic philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and promotes the two minute short film that highlights what KCB does . . . which as a dedicated volunteer, Dangel is quite familiar with.