On Friday, May 2nd, I walked along 39th street with Toni Anderson engaging community members about possible change in the neighborhood and informing them of today's meetings. I learned a great deal about the climate of the community, and how difficult a task it can be to improve a neighborhood when the majority of the residents won't contribute to the effort.
It seemed only natural that I extend Friday's LAND visit to Saturday, May 3rd. The day began at 10 o'clock. Two staff members from HRI, Housing Resources, Inc., came to LAND to give a presentation on how to stop foreclosure. Despite the previous day's promoting efforts, not a single resident attended the meeting.
Delores did not seem entirely disappointed - she said this type of thing was usually hit or miss. The people at LAND know that the services they offer are important whether or not residents take advantage of them on any given day.
John Juedes, a fellow classmate, also attended this meeting. We took advantage of the time discussing many of the current projects that Delores was working on, both related and unrelated to LAND. I found it fascinating how Delores, who is so dedicated to LAND, also makes time for her studies as a fulltime student at UWM.
As one o'clock rolled around, the second meeting began - focusing on the 39th street project. Four people attended this meeting: two seperate homeowners and two children. The focus of the meeting was primarily for Delores to inform the residents about the plan she had for improving 39th street by adding natural surveillance (increasing lighting and visibility), buying boarded up homes and remodeling them, and selling them to new homeowners. Although this plan of action was created a long time ago, Delores wanted to have the residents be a part of the decision making process.
LAND has high hopes that the 39th street project will create a model for improvement of other neighborhoods.