I have many friends, including myself, who had an inwardly defining moment after moving into our chosen transitional neighborhood. There comes a point where we all decided that “we’re not gonna take it,” and this neighborhood is now ours. Over five years ago, a neighbor of ours bought a house here. For the first few months of enduring gun shots, a drug-dealing neighbor, and a horrid next door neighbor, he was making his plans to find a way out of his house. But, there came a moment when he decided that it wasn’t himself that needed to leave, but the evil neighbors.
Dependent on the level of “crap,” that exists when a person moves into a transitional neighborhood, it becomes necessary to take on a warrior mentality. My husband had his defining moment in a shouting match with a Narcotics’ Anonymous supervisor who wanted me to stop reporting their drug dealing and fights in front of our property. I couldn’t believe my ears when my husband shouted (paraphrased and voided of vulgarities), “This is our neighborhood now! We own this house while you use this street temporarily, so don’t you dare tell me to not take care of my own neighborhood!” Needless to say this gentleman is rarely seen conducting the NA meetings across our street, and he never comes near us. The group also was forced to clean up its act, and it took a long fight.
I am not advocating replacement of a neighborhood, but replacement of values and attitudes. When there are a few bad apples, it spoils a neighborhood for the rest of the inhabitants, even for those who are apathetic. It’s amazing that, if a few people start to act, others will join, especially when they see results. Unfortunately, law-breaking citizens are emotionally like children, and they will get away with whatever they are able. So, make the choice to not be afraid to stake your claim and clean up your street. Set an expectation for what isn’t allowed on your street, and those on the street will eventually start to inch toward that expectation.