Won’t You be My Neighbor?

“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors – in our own way, each one of us is a giver and receiver”.

This evening, the Grand Junction City Council will officially recognize the Hawthorne Park Neighborhood Association. Our neighborhood is benefiting from the influx of several new residents who are purchasing older properties, renovating them, and living in them. This increase in owner-occupant households has resulted in an equally increased sense of community, not so much in a tangible way but in a more human way.

There are two young couples in my block who have been active in establishing the association, and have taken advantage of some of the grant funding available for special projects to improve the area. In our case here, that has meant city-funded beautification of the “park strips” between sidewalk and curb, with labor contributed by the property owner.

Where once was gravel or dirt, we now have irrigation, new trees, and attractive xeriscaping. It’s rather impressive (and will become more so as the plants grow), and a credit to the owner-occupants who put forth the effort.

Combined with some of the wonderful things being done by other residents that I’ve written about previously, the potential for continued improvements to the cohesiveness and beauty of the Hawthorne Park neighborhood is greatly enhanced by the initiative of these neighbors to approach the City about such a designation.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
G.K. Chesterton
To be truthful, I have neighbors that have enriched my life to a point where things would have been much harder without them, and I have neighbors that I have not spoken more than a few words to in over 9 years. Despite the trivial human frailties that all of us possess, we all seem to watch out for each other, but are respectful of each other’s choices and limitations.

If the neighborhood association turns out to be a facilitator for assistance and developing those community efforts and human intangibles that I referred to above, then it stands to do a great service to our area. However, I will be watchful for signs of intolerance, such as those that tend to populate many HOA’s, here and elsewhere. Neighborhood associations should exist for the betterment of the community at large by promoting improvement strategies, not attempting to impose them by ostracism or other means.

There are several things that I can think of that would enhance the quality of life and sense of community in our neighborhood. One is a neighborhood watch program, which again can be a slippery slope if not managed properly.

Another idea concerns those vacant lots at the corner of 5th and Chipeta, several of which are owned by the Library District. If the library isn’t planning on expanding anytime soon, those lots might be a great place for a community garden, much like what is happening in the 1000 block of Main Street. That’s a project I’d be interested in, even though I seriously lack any kind of green thumb. I guess I’m more driven by the divine inspiration provided by fresh red bell peppers and Roma tomatoes.

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.
Hubert H. Humphrey
The City, while being commended for its’ efforts to forward the development of neighborhood groups, should nonetheless be cautious about continued actions which threaten to dilute the quality of service provision to our little part of the “original square mile” as well as other established neighborhoods. This activity consists mostly of automatic annexations of properties under the Persigo Agreement with Mesa County.

This agreement needs to be re-negotiated, and/or more stringent, individualized consideration given to development applications that involve annexation. The effective quality of life of all current city residents is at stake.

On a greater political scope, please take note of the author of the above quote. This man’s presidential aspirations were dashed in part by a divisive convention peppered by violent outbursts. In this context, and especially on the eve of the events in Denver 40 years later, perhaps Recreate68, Code Pink, and those entrenched Hillary supporters should be re-thinking their plans. As much as the Democratic Party is a political establishment, with all of the negative connotations of that term, it may very well be better than the alternative.

On the other side of the coin, here’s hoping that the Democratic establishment and the Denver Police will exercise prudent judgment in monitoring and addressing protest activities. I know that the ACLU, CopWatch, Denver Open Media, and other organizations are geared up to document, publish, distribute, and litigate over controversial or openly abusive police tactics.

The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.
Martin Luther King, Jr., from Strength to Love (1963)

On both sides, restraint is the order of the day. Let’s be good neighbors.

This entry was posted in Community, Downtown, Government, Local, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Won’t You be My Neighbor?

  1. Len says:

    I too look forward to seeing how our new neighborhood association works out. This is a great part of town, and getting us all together to find common interest and vision is an exciting prospect. I’ll be watching the mail every day for notice of our first big meeting. In the 21st century, with all we have keeping us proximate, but not necessarily connected, this is quite an opportunity.

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