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Neighborhood Development: What makes a House a Home?

What makes a neighborhood into a community? What makes a bunch of houses into homes?

I've lived on my street a long time. Last year, two sisters, ages 9 and 11, asked me to help to kick off a Halloween parade. Thinking back, that was a turning point for me.

This year, my 4-year-old daughter was the true hostess of the parade. Only the second annual, it is to her an institution. She is proud our home is so central to the event. As families gathered in our front yard before walking about a block and a half together, she welcomed everyone personally, offered treats and admired costumes. My mother joked it was as if she were running for mayor.

In fact, we had delivered flyers to houses and apartments where we knew children lived. Sometimes we were just reading clues, like strollers and push-toys in yards. We wanted to be sure everyone felt invited. 

Happily, I am getting to know my neighbors better as the years go by. Lately, we have had a lot to talk about. Many of us are getting organized around a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood. 

We have started a petition specifically to oppose a proposal to build a large music venue on East Washington, on the block next to Lapham Elementary School. We support smart development that respects and enhances the neighborhood. We are working to update playgrounds, to maintain area parks, to strengthen the local businesses, and to support Lapham Elementary School and the young people growing up around it.

It feels great to be part of a community that is place-based.

It means that I want to stay put for Trick-or-Treating. For years, I sat on a friend's front porch handing out candy to kids in the Jenifer Street neighborhood. I watched all those kids grow up and raided their candy haul for Mounds bars.

Now I am building community from my own front porch. On Halloween, adult friends dropped by to show off their costumes, steal my kids' candy, and eat chili and cornbread. After our kids were finally in bed, we sat around a neighbor's bonfire and talked. 

Really talked. We reminded ourselves: This is worth making time for. Community is a value and a practice. We are so very lucky to be here.

If you would like to sign the petition, please be in touch. Find the facebook page "Tenney Lapham for Smart Development." Thanks!

[The petition=We the undersigned residents of Tenney Lapham neighborhood support the development of the 1000 block of East Washington but OPPOSE the inclusion of the large capacity music club proposed by Frank Productions. We are proponents of smart development that will enhance and not detract from our quality of life. A large capacity music club does not belong in a residential neighborhood.]

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