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EDITOR'S DESK: Being neighborly easier said than done

       By Kenyon Jordan

       One of the most difficult and thankless volunteer jobs has got to be neighborhood leadership.
       Over the years, we've encountered quite a few people who've taken on that mantle. It's interesting because, outside of formal associations - not so common on the Westside - there really are no "rules of engagement," so to speak.
       For example, people can just appear and seem to be speaking for a given area. That has happened now and then in our own neighborhood, the

Midland, south of Highway 24. Once, some years back, we heard by chance about a group that had proposed a fairly radical change. The only catch was that the group had never contacted those of us who would be most affected!
       A similar (but not identical) situation recently cropped up in Holland Park, whose traffic has worsened because of the emergency closure of Chestnut Street. The area once had a strong organization, with elected officers who planned cleanups, picnics and even group yard sales. But (and here's another thing that can happen) those leaders could no longer spend the time, and no one else stepped up because (yet another thing) there weren't enough big issues to make it seem necessary. So into this vacuum last fall stepped a concerned resident, who e-mailed city officials about the traffic and got some action - three new stop signs on Vondelpark Drive. Unfortunately, because she hadn't directly contacted a whole lot of fellow residents (relying instead on a modern Internet tool, NextDoor.com) some of them got mad about the signs, resulting in a backlash.
       That's another issue in itself, the Internet. It simplifies communication (e.g., Facebook), but too often the result is rumors, causing new problems.
       The older Westside is unique by having the long-established, multi-zipcode Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) as a kind of umbrella group. It hasn't been easy for OWN of late. The city stopped funding it two years ago, which meant an end to its newsletter. We've tried to help by providing column space in the Pioneer.
       Most of the time, neighborhood issues can seem boring. But it's worth it to keep track, face-to-face style. It's where we live, after all.

(Posted 1/27/16; Opinion: Editor's Desk)

       Kenyon Jordan is the editor of the Westside Pioneer.


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