My neighbor Trent brought me an avocado pit he had sprouted in his kitchen. He did it to be kind. We had not known each other long, and we did not know each other well, but he saw that I was planting fruit trees in my front yard and he wanted to contribute. We engaged in the simple experience of neighbors being nice to one another.
When I was elected president of the SCNA board, I wanted to engage in the simple experience of being nice to some of my new neighbors. On a particularly cold and wet Saturday, District 5 Councilmember Jay Schenirer and I visited the new homes along Crocker Drive. While Jay had met many of the residents before, this was my first experience to meet my new neighbors, see some beautiful homes, and introduce myself to the residents and the neighborhood association. Several days later I was invited to attend the Crocker Village homeowners association meeting.
At the Crocker Village HOA meeting, I was pleased to share some of the priorities of SCNA’s Strategic Plan. Our focus is to develop new and reliable revenue streams to fund association programs, encourage more Curtis Park residents to become involved in association activities and leadership, and promote neighbor inclusivity. Because inclusivity is such a critical element in our Strategic Plan, I shared the SCNA board’s recent decision to gather feedback from Crocker Drive residents to better understand concerns and expectations associated with the Crocker Village development.
I heard that many Crocker Drive residents bought new homes across the street from what they believed was an imminent commercial development that would (a) bring convenience and wellbeing to their lives; (b) add to the value of their investments; and (c) convert an abandoned rail yard that attracted illegal camping and dumping into a community asset.
Some of the new residents have a great deal of frustration with SCNA for delaying Crocker Village development by waging a legal battle. As I said to Crocker Drive homeowners, we did not do a good job of soliciting a broad spectrum of perspectives as we developed our approach to demand quality in the development of Crocker Village.
And while the SCNA board acted in good faith, motivated by the belief that any developer should develop with integrity, we did not reach out to our neighbors most directly impacted by the successes and delays of Crocker Village. We failed to engage in the simple experience of neighbors being nice to one another.
Several weeks after Trent brought me the avocado sprout, he brought me a strawberry plant. He has lived in Curtis Park much longer than I have. I think he just wants me to feel at home. I baked him an angel food cake for Christmas. Trent and I now greet each other regularly. Simple acts of neighbors being nice to one another, whether through plants, pastries or participation, are perhaps the best definition of community