Thursday, June 2, 2011

Being a "Good" Laveen Resident

I recently posted the following article on our Laveen community Facebook group, with the suggestion that these pointers were good not just for gentrifying urban neighborhoods, but being a good neighbor wherever you live: http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/five-ways-to-be-a-good-gentrifier/

So let's deconstruct this advice for a Laveen-centric approach, using the original article's pointers as a starting point for conversation:

1. "Get involved, but first listen and learn." I posted a guide to getting involved in community groups about 18 months ago, and I hope it can continue to provide a good deal of guidance for new residents: http://www.ourlifeinlaveen.com/2009/12/getting-involved-in-community.html

2. "Say hello to people, and if you have a front porch, use it." Did you know that Laveen's residential development guidelines actually promote including front porches in our communities? I'd say that we've strayed a bit from this original directive in recent years, but I still like to think that we can all get to know our neighbors and be a real community. Let's not try to emulate other insulated suburban areas of Phoenix by closing ourselves off from one another. Quoting a neighbor, Brad, who commented on my original Facebook post on this topic:
Go out of your way to show respect to those who are different from you. Get out of yourself and smile at people you don't know when you come to them in the grocery aisle. Hold the door open at the bank. Ask advice of people. Cut people a lot of slack if they're grumpy. 
If we get out of our cars and walk and bike more we end up talking with more people. More conversations = stronger community.

3. "Have a baby or get a dog." Ummm, not mandatory by any means, but the original story's author was simply pointing out additional ways to break the ice with neighbors who you've otherwise never spoken to. Maybe a nice politically correct twist on this one, which would also provide a great deal of societal good is to consider fostering a pet from the nearby Humane Society's Campus for Compassion. Or maybe keep an eye out for abandoned pets from nearby vacant homes.

4. "Don’t automatically cross the street to avoid young, black kids." Ok, now I'm regretting pasting all of these pointers verbatim. I recommend referring to the originally cited article and consider replacing the terminology with a name for any ethnic or racial group or omitting that language entirely. Kids are kids. You once were a kid and the kids who make you feel threatened probably have a great deal in common with how you were as a kid. If you think about it this way and still feel threatened, then you were a bad kid. Sorry, but they're likely better than you were in many ways, although it's hard to admit. We've got some great kids in Laveen, from state basketball champs to honorary guests at the White House, and everything in between.

5. "Visit local, small businesses and take note of what they offer. Some sell things you actually want." Most people I know are already doing this and I thank you for it, as do the business owners. Going out for a drink? Consider the Spurr Lounge, which is a great neighborhood bar, or Native New Yorker, a local franchise where you're almost sure to run into the owner, Art Greathouse (also a football champ from my high school and university). Grocery shopping? Yeah, I know what I said before about Trader Joe's and Costco, but still, I have received great service at our Fry's and Safeway, and I love going to Food City and Phoenix Ranch Market -- both east of us on Southern. Need a printer or sign maker? Check out the new print shop on 27th and Baseline; Cesar would welcome the business. Chiropractor? Talk to Niels at In & Out Chiropractic or the place by Safeway. Doctor, dentist, veterinarian? Check, check, check. Restaurants? Try all the ones in and around Laveen before assuming you must venture elsewhere. Sure, we need to work on bringing in more local businesses, but we have a few here that may surprise you.

And that's the end of the list, but I will keep spouting off my views, since I still write with the same spirit as when I thought no one read this drivel.... Remember when I posted about civility last year? No, you probably don't. Here's a link: http://www.ourlifeinlaveen.com/2010/08/on-civility.html

I love the fact that the person I mentioned in that post was passionate about her neighborhood -- in fact I'd like to see more of this spirit -- but please go about it in a constructive and harmonious manner. We do not need hermits; we need engaged and caring community members. Are you up for it? Please say yes.

2 comments:

~~Stefany~~ said...

Can't help but to share this on my FB page...again, so well written...Thank you for taking the time to share the views of many...

Patrick said...

Thanks Stef! It was fun to write, so I hope people enjoy it.