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Saturday, August 4, 2012

We Come in Peace!

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. 

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