This may not be the forum for this, but if not, there is not a forum that exists, as this blog is supposed to be a look behind the curtain that is our outward NoLi CDC persona and image, supposed to be a look into the innerworkings of who we are, our ruminations steeped in working in dozens of directions each day to try to make one or another small aspect of one small community better in some small way, step by step, poco a poco. And right now, what is troubling me, and has been a topic of conversation since I joined NoLi CDC, is how it is incredible the way in which some people feel like they can say and post things on the internet that they can't | wouldn't | shouldn't say in person, and that is both good and bad. On the positive side, it is empowering to be able to have a placeless discussion where anyone can offer up anything without having to vie for time to speak, without having to work to be heard, without really having to fear retribution, rebuke, or rebuff. It is truly democratic (at least for those who have access to and are aware of the platform). But, at its vitriolic worst, it is treated as a free pass to lob hurtful, accusatory, polarizing, and often wildly overblown or even baldly untrue verbal barbs at each other. So, to the person who may either seriously or facetiously feel that the Common Market proposal that is in its developmental infancy is some sort of economic or cultural genocide that is not in the best interest and even will be to the detriment of long-time Northsiders and their way of life, I would ask if they feel that those who have been here the longest and have made this place their home do not deserve to have easy and affordable access to fresh local foods and other locally produced wares, do not deserve to have a platform for starting and growing a business ambition, do not deserve to be able to do what they love and make a living at it, do not deserve to see a forgotten and neglected building activated and filled with life and energy. How could any of this be at the expense of those long-time Northsiders? Is it because any improvement is viewed as gentrification, and it is assumed that the improvements and associated investment that goes with those improvements are not for those long-time Northsiders, but rather some other "coveted" group of outsiders? Why? Those people, those "coveted" outsiders don't need that access, don't need that opportunity, don't need those stepping stones to success. And if they do need that access and opportunity, there is more than enough empty space to let them join our melting pot. If we were going to kick those long-time Northsiders out and totally change the neighborhood, we would propose a Northside Fayette Mall or some other safer and more proven model of suburban stripmall. But what we are doing is as far from that as can be imagined. Make no mistake - this will be hard to accomplish, will be hard to make work, and will have a lot of moving parts, will be complicated and costly and not nearly as fast as the neighborhood deserves. But it is the right thing to do. The right thing is often the hardest thing to do. But it is worth it.
I have had a good friend and confidant/counselor of sorts tell me that it is all about intent, that if our intent is pure, if we intend to make the neighborhood better for the people who are already here, who have always been here, to strive in every action to make it a more beautiful diverse artful well-thought-out community building on the rich history and fabric that exists and persists through all incarnations good and bad throughout its history, if that is our intent, and if we spend every waking working minute to make this happen, then we can only be judged based on that intent - that 'haters gonna hate,' and to remain undeterred. But that doesn't mean that they get a free pass, at least not from me, they will not get a free pass to be ignorant, hateful, ugly, or base under the guise of righteousness that rings hollow false and feigned, as they advocate for those long-time Northsiders that I can only assume they are not only not a member of, but have never even met or lived next door to or said hi to on the sidewalk or shoveled out of the snowstorm or taken out their trash or given them a ride home from work. So, people can say whatever they want, and they will, no matter what we do. But our intent is pure, and we have and will spend every waking working minute to make it real, for this neighborhood, for all Northsiders, whether here for 5 minutes or 50 years.