Some months ago I was watching David Byrne’s American Utopia. Between a couple of the songs, he makes this brilliant observation:
“Objectively, I could never figure out why looking at a person should be anymore interesting than looking at any other thing, like say, a bicycle, a beautiful sunset, or a nice bag of potato chips. But yeah, looking at people, that’s the best.”
That hit me between the eyes and has stuck with me since. It still makes me smile because it makes me think about what I love most about our neighborhood: the people. It’s what I think makes belonging to this neighborhood such a great thing. Yeah, there’s some fascinating history and some beautiful homes. But to be neighbors with this particular group of people, to connect with these human beings who live next door and across the street, that’s the best.
The last year and half have been oh so challenging. Words just can’t do it justice. We’ve all felt and experienced the weight in different ways. And though in some ways it feels like things are going back to normal, there really is no going back. What’s in front of us is something wholly, brand new. That’s crazy exciting and crazy scary both at the same time.
When the non-profit organization that functions as our neighborhood association last met in February 2020, we had such big plans for the year. The board had organized a number of teams in order to meet some specific opportunities that we saw:
+A service team that would look for opportunities where an individual or household or group in the neighborhood might need a helping hand.
+A connection team to extend hospitality to the newest residents of the Heights and to communicate a warm welcome to the neighborhood.
+A social events team that would plan and host fun events for simply connecting with each other.
+A communications team that would develop effective ways for helping us all stay in touch.
+A fundraising team to see to the financial sustainability of this non-profit organization.
Then COVID happened.
Like so many folks, at first we fumbled through as best we could. Looking back, there’s so much I wish I had done differently. But I have to give grace to myself and to our board. I know without a doubt we did the very best we could with what we knew with what we had in the moment in order to be safe and responsible and good to one another.
And the question before us today is: What kind of neighborhood do we want to be now?
The Heights Historic District, Inc. is hosting our annual meeting this Saturday, May 15 on the lawn at the Parish Church of St. Jerome’s. This is the annual meeting we would normally host in January where we pay our membership dues ($10) and vote on new officers and a new board. (The dues are not necessary to attend, but they are needed if you plan to vote or serve as an officer or board member.)
Nothing beats being with people, especially your neighbors.
With all that’s happened these past 16 months, I’m as convinced as ever that the place to change the world is my local neighborhood. As Margaret Mead has said, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I hope you’ll be there Saturday morning. I hope you’ll consider serving on the board this year and be a part of changing the world.
Peter White, President – The Heights Historic District, Inc.