"It sure is hard work," Ruth Beeker, facilitator for the meeting agreed. "Moving ourselves from complaining (actually, Ruth used the "bit....." word, but I am cleaning it up a bit for my post) to finding solutions is hard work." And, silently, I also agreed, saying to myself, "And this is why I am here: to find solutions."
As part of my tentative re-emergence in community work focused on "my cup is half full" philosophy and practice, I wasn't sure I had a place in this group. But I decided to give it a try and administer a kind of self-test about how deep my exploration of community happiness and prosperity had really gone into my psyche. So far I would say, it's made a definite positive difference in my attitude and behavior of public particpation. I listen more closely and think a bit longer before I say something. I judge less and appreciate different perspectives a bit more--not a 180 degree shift, but, still a change.
It's too soon to tell if this gathering of 22 neighborhood associations and 44 civic organizations can lean forward toward a more positive direction between neighborhoods, businesses and local government, but, as of today, I am hopeful. One example emerged from my small group where a representative from the Garden District NA talked about how they have formed a public-private partnership with two neighborhood stores. The businesses now fund a neighborhood newsletter and have altered their business hours to accomodate neighborhood concerns. If this kind of progress can be duplicated in other neighborhoods (and expanded), Tucson can offer a brighter neighborhood-business community future.
My neighborhood of Crest Ranch (located in Campus Farms NA) is just east of what I refer to as an example of "funky Tucson." Walking west along the rurban roads along Vine and King, I enjoy rabbits and quails, lizards and diverse birdlife and the holiday decorations provided by one of the residents. If I go east, I quickly can shop at Safeway and eat at Ghini's and buy French pastries at La Baquette Bakery. On cooler days, I can ride my bike to UA Farms and enjoy the animal life and green fields that remind me of my farming roots. All this, and more, contribute to the good life in my neighborhood. While establishing a "little free library" remains a challenge to my HOA (we have expanded my front yard "book basket" practice to something bigger...), a dedicated group of my neighbors and I are working with our HOA board to find common ground on this small community-building project.
What creates the good life in your neighborhood and how are you contributing to it on a regular basis?