Ramblings, Thoughts and Rants from an Urban Dweller Living in Dignowity Hill, San Antonio Texas
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The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission.
You never know what serendipity can bring to your feet. I was working in the community garden on Sunday morning when these two gentlemen showed up. Apparently, they were former students of the old Emerson Junior High School and they were there to take a group picture with other former classmates.
Waldo Emerson Junior High School was located in the buildings of what is now the Ella Austin Community Center. The school was in operation from the early 1950's through late the 1960's when classes were moved to another middle school and Emerson Junior High was shut down. It was the neighborhood junior high school back before someone got the bright idea of calling them middle schools.
The gathering of former students that morning had all graduated from Emerson in the late 1950's to mid 1960's. The group graciously allowed me to intrude in their gathering. It was fun listening to their stories of how the neighborhood was back in the day. Most of them had moved away to other parts of the city but their affection for Emerson, each other and the old neighborhood was readily apparent. You just never know what stories you may stumble upon on a Sunday morning in Dignowity Hill.
After over a year of intense community debate, dissection by the media and misplaced johnny come lately organized opposition, the city council gave a unanimous vote in approving the microbrewry plan next to the Hays Street Bridge to go forth and multiply many more Alamo Beer fans. While some lingering concerns remain regarding the use of the space on the bridge overall this is a a good thing for the neighborhood and the city.
One of the many smoke screen issues that surfaced during the vetting process was around how the newcomers to the neighborhood are the ones that have been pushing the economic development notion over having another park next to the old bridge....and in the process are the ones that are pushing out long time residents in their quest to invest in the neighborhood. Well, the bucket that tried holding that argument was full of holes. The brewery project is about private investment in a long neglected waste land with a serious touch of blight. No one is being displaced because of this project or to put it another way, the brewery is not the root cause of some major gentrification trend!
My good friend and neighbor, Tony C, spoke eloquently before our esteemed city council about being a newcomer to the neighborhood. One comment that he made was classic: "we newcomers come in peace". Well said! Tony and his wife Sonya moved into the neighborhood 2 years ago and quickly became involved in neighborhood/community building activities. They joined the neighborhood association, they participate in the tutoring and mentoring program for the neighborhood elementary school, they also started a garden club for the after school program at the Ella Austin Community Center called the Germinators, and they are core members of the community garden group. Tony is a member of the board of directors for the neighborhood association so he's learning the ropes of community leadership. These folks are compassionate doers that believe in building community.
Newcomer Tony and all around good guy!
The reality is that the old neighborhood is changing and it's changing in a positive direction because of newcomers like Tony and Sonya and others who bring much needed new energy and vibrancy to a neighborhood in the mist of transition. Together these newcomers along with long time residents are creating a a wonderful synergy of ideas that is leading to improved quality of life for all neighborhood residents. Will full blown gentrification happen in our neighborhood? Maybe, maybe not. What we're experiencing in Dignowity at the moment is a spurt of urban renaissance. We have a long ways to go before any one can start claiming that Dignowity Hill has become gentrified.