Two steps forward, two steps back

When my husband and I moved to our neighborhood last August, we knew it was “in transition.” We’d both lived or worked in the downtown areas of Boston and Atlanta, so we felt particularly capable of coexisting with a little variety of folks. Actually, I was quite excited about the prospect of living in and among people of different socio-economic statuses.

Our neighborhood flanks a major thoroughfare between several public housing projects and more affluent areas. On their way to Smyrna or Buckhead, our neighborhood is full of temptation: up-and-coming professionals occupy attractive, newly-built houses, and their many possessions are visible through the occasional open set of blinds or garage door. Most of them work during the day, leaving their homes vulnerable to attack.

Yesterday, two houses were burglarized in Riverside. One home was without its vacationing owners. The other belongs to friends of ours who are wonderful and it kills me that somebody hurt them by hurting their house.

I’m trying to keep my cool about the situation that our neighborhood is in. It would be waaaay easy to say, well, screw it! It’s not safe here, we’d best be movin’ on! But I love our neighborhood. A lot of really cool friends live here, some we knew before August 2007, some we’ve met after. I adore our narrow streets and tall trees, and even the daily dose of squirrel dodging on the way in and out of the ‘hood. I know it’s rough around the edges, and even within, but I love it here.

I’ve been glued to our forum all day, and I’ve been pretty opinionated on there. That’s because a few folks – and I don’t blame them! – seem a little pessimistic. One person said, “There goes the neighborhood!” I can overlook that cliche, but I can’t overlook the message of giving up. It’s OUR neighborhood, by golly. Just because people keep breaking into houses and cars, it doesn’t mean our very good efforts that we’ve put in place amount to nothing. I hope we can all become active in taking back our neighborhood.


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