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A Simple Six: Our Neighborhood

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Neighborhood

Yesterday evening I walked five children, mine and my neighbor's son, to a benefit carnival. Tickets were a quarter and you could get Papa John's pizza, snow cones, face painting, or play the duck pond game, each with one ticket. The inflatables were free. Usually I would avoid such events because I don't enjoy crowds, spending money on games, or taking five children out alone. I choose to go because it was about a mile away, the children are getting older and easier to take places, they had to scrounge for their own change to spend, and it was a benefit for a pool that is in our neighborhood.

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The pool, which I have never even seen, was closed this year because it was in disrepair and the city lacked the funds to maintain it. It was the only pool within the city limits. It serves primarily a very underprivileged community but was open to the public. The few times we went swimming we drove out the Kennedy YMCA center or to Beech Fork State Park pool.

None of our friends mentioned this downtown location. No one talked about it, I assume, because of the population that visited that pool. That particular neighborhood and many more like it are filled with a very low socio-economic class. The project housing in the area is some of the most beautiful architecture in Huntington, again, in my opinion. Yet, you will always see families sitting on stoops, likely because they don't have air conditioning and strollers parked by doors, probably because they get around without cars. Folks are often crossing Hal Greer, a very busy four lane, to the Par Mar convenience store and hollering across to home. There are many petty crimes in the area, a lot of boarded up and broken homes, over grown lawns, occasional shootings, graffiti, and you will read about police reports for drug trafficking and child abuse with addresses from this neighborhood. It's not the city's pride and joy.

The carnival.

In recent years the neighborhood has been the home to the Barnett Center Weed and Seed office, the Fairfield Community Gardens, and the Ebenezer Medical Outreach Farmer's Market. All these efforts have been put forth by many hard working citizens. These programs are some of the city's jewels. There is a great buzz about each of them. Our family has been minimally involved in several of these projects. We strive to do more. This is our neighborhood too.

London got an owl.

Oliver's first snow cone.

When we were driving more, it was very easy to say those areas were another neighborhood and someone else's problem. Our street, our little block was ours. We drove out of town to the hardware store and across town to the other markets. Now that we are staying closer to home and seeking out options for goods that are convenient, a mile radius is very much our community. I would even say that two miles in any direction is our extended environment, it's where we are seeking our services, food, entertainment, and friends. It's also every bit our responsibility to care for it all. We can no longer blame anyone else or expect everyone else to change things, not that we should have before. These are our neighbors, for richer or poorer.

Walking the children to the AD Lewis Center, drove this idea in deeper for me. The sense of understanding is growing.

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