In 2004 I wrote:
But what do I mean by better? I feel safer. Whether not I actually AM safer is another thing but I FEEL safer walking down the street, going home. I can chalk it up to not seeing as many people hanging out in certain spots and the crowd of young people loitering down the block seems to have dwindled a bit. Joggers & dog walkers, they strangely make me feel safer, despite all my complaints about them.
I also mean better in aesthetics. An abandoned house is not a pretty thing. Every other house on the block abandoned is just plain ugly and depressing. Rehabbed houses, new construction, and sometimes a new paint job make it easy on the eyes when walking down the street. At times, a house can be inspiring and uplifting, far better than being depressed by decay.
Another "better" is being able to spend my money in my neighborhood. If there are more opportunities for me to go out and eat or buy somewhere near my home, that is a good thing. I am trying to train myself to go to Logan Hardware over the chaotic Rhode Island Ave Home Depot. I do try to keep an eye open for businesses close to home worthy of my money. And if it is just one thing, like milk, I will go to G&G quickie mart. Before, I had to leave Shaw to buy somethings or the mini marts had nothing I wanted to buy or were too icky to even think of walking in.
It's getting better.
I've been meaning to write something after I came across a neighbor who had been talking to some other neighbors who were pre-1990s old timers, people who bought way before the 2000s. He had thought the neighborhood was far better than it used to be, and I agree, but the old timers did not.
I chatted with the old timers and it just seemed we all had a different defintion of "better."
For them, it seemed to be an elimination of a certain problem, the dealers. I'd love it there were no more street dealers in the hood selling poison to fathers, mothers and kids. But I think things are better, because there are fewer street dealers than there were when I showed up, and the dealers who are around are a bunch of old guys who sell heroin. Old guys are an improvement from hot headed young guys selling crack.
Bike lanes, sit down restaurants, fewer vacant houses, more homeowners, speed humps, and garden walks mean nothing, because there are still drug dealers. Old timers are convinced the shoe is going to drop. I'm going to guess the dropping shoe may be spate of drug related gunfire on our otherwise quiet block, or some other drug related event.