I always told my kids to find their passion and then figure out how to make a living at it. I am glad they are living that advice. I don't think I ever realized what my passion was until recently. In some ways, I have been living mine and didn't know it.
Back when I was going to school, options were fairly limited. Girls normally became nurses (not doctors), legal assistants (not lawyers), secretaries (not CEO's) or teachers. There may have been many other options but, I didn't know about them.
Looking back, it seems my passion was "Community Organizer". What is the education for that? Other than life, I don't know. I have been a part of many "communities" over the years. Schools, prisons, drug abuse and public housing are all sort of communities and I have worked in all of them with varying degrees of success at organization.
Retirement has brought new opportunities! I live in a "transitional urban neighborhood". Whether that transition is positive or negative is a matter of much disagreement. Some focus on the negatives, others on the positives. Crime watch reports tell me some of the negatives. Occasional gun shots do the same. Police cars speeding down the street in response to trouble provide more evidence. There is litter in the street, graffiti on garages and houses in various states of disrepair. I welcome the cameras, shot spotter and neighborhood police officer.
When asked if the glass if half full or half empty, I am the type of person who knows it is neither, it just is, but will likely respond "half full". It seems that I continue to get more and more involved in the neighborhood. The calendar fills up fast! Build It Up meetings, CONNECTIONS! meetings, Senior Advance meetings, East Village Growth Cell meetings, neighborhood association meetings, East Bluff Food Pantry and East Bluff News. Public art is appearing and more is planned. Paint the Street, actually an intersection, received a lot of attention and the first East Bluff Sunrise 5K Run was a success.
There is a great deal of work being done with homes in disrepair. Community Core and "In As Much" did a lot of work in a targeted area. From landscaping, painting and porch repair, residents have homes in much better shape that before. There is new construction by Habitat For Humanity and through the Attorney General's Grant that provided the funding for new accessible duplexes. More new construction is planned and a different area will have Community Core designation next year. Assistance will be available to homeowners within the East Village Growth Cell beginning in January, 2016.
Communication is the key! Perhaps my favorite endeavor is East Bluff News. Several of us put together a newsletter every other month. It is distributed at various locations around the neighborhood and is emailed or snail mailed to others. The other half of East Bluff News is our Facebook page by the same name. We attempt to let members know what is happening that may be of interest to them. The newsletter is also posted on the page. We are up to over 330 members.
All these efforts involve many people who also recognize the glass just has water in it, but continue to believe and act as if it is half full and getting fuller!