Two months ago, I was asked to lead this community group, the CNA, in this Central Neighborhood — the most historic, most storied, most coveted, most walkable, most diverse, most neighborly in Valparaiso — into its next chapter. My predecessors, including some still living in the neighborhood and active in this association, have been at this for decades. Over the years, they fought and won many zoning battles, preserving the quality and uses of our homes and our neighborhood school. They threw great block parties, bringing folks together in the spirit of inclusiveness and fun. It is no overstatement to say that we owe the current character and greatness of our community directly to their vision and determination. As a relatively new kid on the block, I am very grateful for their efforts!
And here we are now. As I talk with people, many ask me what is the goal? Or, what do I want from the association? With so many assets, so much history, and so many currently and potentially engaged friends and neighbors, what do we do now? I hope to determine the answer to these questions together. But as a newly minted community leader, I am compelled to share my vision for Central Neighborhood and the CNA.
In short, I want to live in a neighborhood that is safe, inclusive and supportive for all its residents.
I want to live where every neighborhood kid is never more than a few doors away from a known safe harbor. I want to live where the drivers on our streets think about the people on our sidewalks. I want to live where people say something when they see something that just isn’t right because neighbors have each others’ backs.
I want to live where a neighbor is a neighbor whether they own their place or not. I want to live where conservatives and progressives don’t avoid or ignore each others’ views but recognize them and get along anyway because a neighborhood is the very definition of common ground.
I want to live where home improvement help is just a door knock away. I want to live where your neighbor will stand on top of a scaffold in the blazing sun holding that basketball hoop in place for a half-hour while you run to the store again to get the right-size bolts. I want to live where another neighbor will help you move yards-and-yards of sand so that new brick patio is nice and level. I want to live where the recent widow or widower is comforted knowing that maintaining their home of 40 years will be manageable with the help of a couple neighbors once in a while because real home improvement is about more than how things look; it’s about how people feel.
My goals for the CNA are simple:
1) I will honor the history of our predecessors by preserving the integrity and character of this great neighborhood, and
2) I will engage any one willing to talk in a conversation about how to make our neighborhood even more safe, inclusive and supportive than it already is.
Interim president of the CNA