Saturday, November 15, 2008

Neighborhood Associations

Harmonic Convergence
:: good neighbors (not always) ::

Portland has a strong sense of neighborhood, each one named, proud of its history. Having city historians makes a big difference, be they at PSU or wherever. Not every city is so lucky.

Among those who preserve our heritage, by oral traditional as well is by file, are the various Neighborhood Associations. I used to work for CNN (Central Northeast Neighbors), and Southeast Uplift, as a provider of computer services. Plus I served on the Hollywood Neighborhood Association for a spell, a real eye opener at the time.

The neighborhood Fred Meyer was getting set to close, so people worried about property values, having no way of knowing a Trader Joe's would be coming in later, plus Hollywood is special anyway, with other "Freddy's" nearby (big one off Broadway, which is why the Hollywood one closed, not smart to run both so close together).

Then there was that cougar or other wild cat some neighbor thought he, or she, might own. The details grow hazy in the rear view mirror. I was still driving Gutless at the time I'm pretty sure.

Just as college students now rate their professors, sometimes with a chip on their shoulder or ax to grind, we all realize, i.e. teachers aren't always trying to win some popularity contest, come off as curmudgeonly, more like House M.D. or Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes, both highly skilled TV personalities, deserving of their pay checks, so might tenants rate their landlords or banks.

Not all landlords are equally popular (with good reason) but sometimes a gruff exterior hides a heart of gold (other times stone though, so watch yourself). Neighborhood associations have the capability to poll neighbors about the kinds of commerce that go on within their borders, with neighbors equally free to opt in on some surveys. Not all coffee shops have free Wifi. The web sites will tell you.