Under the Umbrella

What is NoLi? It is a question we ask ourselves a lot. It is a question we get asked a lot. And the answer is not cut and dried. It probably should be. Or at least it would be easier if it was, but then again, maybe it would be less effective if it was an easy answer. Is it the neighborhood? [and what are the boundaries of the neighborhood?] Is it our non-profit organization? [and how can a corporation a non-profit?] Is it the neighborhood association? Is it something else, perhaps the general movement and collective will to reinvent this beleaguered but beautifully rich and diverse part of town? The answer is that it is all of these things, and more. But, the problem with branding, we are finding, is that sometimes it works too well, and if it works well, which, in our case, it seems it has, the image or icon can become pervasive or ubiquitous without conveying the complexity that lies beneath. Such is the case with our NoLi four-square icon. It appears in hundreds of places, on shop doors and storefronts and car bumpers all over the Northside here in Lexington, and yet it is not clear what this supports. Presumably it supports all of the entities under the NoLi umbrella. But who is who? What does the CDC do? What does the Neighborhood Association do? Who are the people renovating on York Street, and what do they do, and why, and for who? Who are the people leading neighborhood meetings on 7th Street? All of these questions make up one central question: What is NoLi?

But perhaps out of all of that ambiguity and uncertainty  arises our challenge: we are charged, each one of us who live here, work here, sweat here, who think and make and do here, we are all charged with defining that question, individually and collectively: what is NoLi? For our part, at NoLi Community Development Corporation, we are working with each and every initiative, big and small, to make NoLi a more vibrant, safe, sustainable, beautiful and livable place. How we do that unfolds with each day, with each opportunity realized, with each challenge addressed and met, and so we work to earn the right to represent NoLi, to be a community and cultural steward, to include all who share in any part of our goal, to join us, under the umbrella of NoLi.

[KMN]