Today was a good day.
A united group of my friends and neighbors got together to plan a new look for Lilac Street, around the corner from my home. We represent new families, multi-generational families, renters, homeowners, working professionals and stay-at-home parents. We have aligned with neighbors to try to transform one of the most unattractive blocks in our community.
The plan is simple: Identify the neglect; add resolve, resources, and volunteers; and let the ingredients come together. Now we have something. These ongoing revitalization projects will foster beneficial change for our neighborhood.
How did this effort start? The truth comes from the tiniest of mouths. Our children refused to “trick or treat” on Lilac Street. They tossed around names like “devastation” when referring to it.
I see it. I see the destruction caused by crime and violence and I loathe the abandonment, too. The surrender. The resignation.
I have also seen the determination of my group of neighbors not to surrender. We have taken action before; we have a group called Newhallville Community Matters that does clean-ups and community events and puts out this newsletter. (We made the news last year because of this episode.)
This is the most challenging project for our group to date. There are 19 homes on this small stretch of Lilac Street. Almost half of those are vacant, not owner-occupied, and are neglected. Some of these homes are scheduled to be rehabilitated in future years. What about now? What about now, as crime continues to ferment on this tiny block of 19 half-abandoned houses?
As I was leafletting Lilac Street along with Kali Williamson, her daughter, and Lee Cruz, I had the great fortune to meet a neighbor who has lived in the neighborhood for decades. Her grandchildren lost their dad to street violence. Then, just last week they witnessed their friends lying in the street. I thanked her for showing the newer families like mine how it’s done. You don’t flee; you stay and make a difference. It was a beautiful conversation. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by people like her.
Our inspiration is all who stayed through the decades when they could have fled. I am fueled by this; along with enthusiasm from last year. As a community, we spoke with one voice: our vision for our neighborhood. This plan will be executed. We will continue to speak with one voice; failure is not an option.
Today was a good day.