When trying to identify what makes my neighborhood healthy, I was hard pressed to find glaring examples of what is traditionally associated with “healthy living.” There aren’t any farmers markets, open green spaces, bike lanes, etc. The street that I live on is residential and is pretty quiet, and in some instances, kind of boring.
But considering bordering neighborhoods along nearby Seminary, which was recently on lock down due to the hunt for the culprits in an officer involved shooting, boring is not so bad. Actually, I see boring a health benefit to my neighborhood.
I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years, and have seen quite a few changes over time. Some folks have come and gone, but the ones that have stayed have formed a really strong bond. We look out for one another, especially our elderly neighbors that don’t have loved ones in close proximity – making sure they have enough to eat, taking them to their doctor’s appointments, or tossing their morning paper on the porch so they don’t have to walk out too far to get it. These small acts of kindness create a ripple effect of paying it forward, which is absolutely a refreshing feeling in The Town.
Over the past few years there has been a wave of new residents who have made strides to make the neighborhood safer. They have created a neighborhood listserv that keeps folks in the loop about any activity in the neighborhood – specifically alerts about break-ins or non-residents that are possibly casing homes. They have also organized the annual block party between Brann St. and Roberts Ave., along 56th Ave. – where neighbors have the opportunity to mix and mingle, share dishes, and meet some of the beat cops that patrol the neighborhood.
On my block, I also see a lot of people that live, work, or play in this area riding their bikes to and fro, walking their dogs, or taking family walks. The serenity that exists in my neighborhood can be breathtaking. In the fall, when the leaves turn auburn and red, swaying in the warm, gentle breeze, it is such a calming experience. Those precious moments and sights are reminders that there is beauty and peacefulness in The Town.
Below are just a few images of things that I feel are healthy attributes to my neighborhood. Outwardly, they may look like blights, or underutilized, but for me, they are outlets that promote health and well-being.
The nation wide “National Night Out” campaign is just one of the activities that my neighbors organize to promote unity amongst one another in our neighborhood. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
Along Roberts Avenue, between 56th and 57th Avenues, some of the kids for the neighborhood play basketball, football, jump rope, and bike. It may not the ideal or safest place to play, but the kids make due with the little resources that they have to be physically active.
This is one of the several neighborhood watch signs that are on display along my block and the neighboring streets. Folks on my block are not shy about looking out for one another, and alerting suspicious activity. In addition to the listserv, we have a phone tree, which is another way for us to stay connected. Periodically, neighborhood meetings are held – in which the issue of safety is always on the agenda.
This path is located at nearby Mills College. People often run, bike, jog, or take long walks on this peaceful trail. I see this area as being a healthy jewel of this neighborhood that goes untapped. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
This large soccer field is also at Mills College. People jog and and run along the surrounding trail. I see people of all ages and abilities utilizing this field. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
This sign is posted near the corner of Brann and 55th Avenues – which is in close proximity to an elementary school I once attended. In addition to signage like this, I’d imagine that the eyes and voices of the community help in keeping drug activity to a minimum. Katherine Brown -Oakland Voices
More signage located near the elementary school. There are several signs like this on each side of the street to help curb speeding along busy 55th Avenue, as children make their way to school. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
This is the tennis court located at Concordia Park. In this picture, the netting is not up, but folks will have tennis matches here. Or you may find little ones riding their bikes and tricycles – which is a safer than the neighboring streets that have busy traffic. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
This is the basketball court at Concordia Park. Even though it is a bit broken down, folks still come out and play – whether it’s to play horse or one-on-one. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
This is signage posted at one of the entrances of Concordia Park. I’m not sure how much these ordinances are enforced, if at all, but it is an effort to try and keep this shared space safe. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
Concordia Park is located across from Frick Middle School. Unity High School, a charter school located a block away, uses this space for PE. Girls, Inc. also has an office here, and there are several raised beds where community gardening occurs. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.
These signs along my block are the result of community organizing. A few years ago, several neighbors started a petition to install a speed bump to help cut down speeding, and parking limits to prevent commuters from turning this street into an all-day parking lot. Katherine Brown – Oakland Voices.