Tonight we had our block meeting, where the usual suspects showed up and talked. Plus the Tower Grove East board. They did most of the talking, actually. It was all about the concrete parking pad on the corner. We met in Corey & Amanda's backyard, the kids played at Mary & Brent's. They've opened up the fences between three yards, which is so nice. I wish my yard was part of that--but there is a house for sale between us, and the future owners don't have small children, so I somehow doubt we'll wind up in the conjoined backyard scheme. Of course Patrick compared it to a show on HBO about a polygamist and his families. We're not that weird.
But it did feel like a community. One that wasn't basking in its togetherness, in how great we are, in how powerful, righteous, or earnest. This is not something we can really get that fired up about. That house--that house was filled with drugs and prostitution. The general feeling is one of relief that this element is gone. Anything is better than that. True. But could we do better? Could I wring my hands some more over this? Could we talk in circles for another half hour without coming to a decision?
In the end, we almost unanimously opposed the parking pad by itself. I tried to be quiet and let this happen best it could. And I think it did. I did talk, but mostly to say that after the public hearing, then we really have to talk to the developer and extend the ole olive branch. Some (mostly the board) didn't think we needed to. But I think our block believes that we do. I'm not going to roll over for this guy, but I'm not going to leave him twisting in the wind. I want him to sell these units and do a good job and get the hell out of Dodge back to Chesterfield and leave us be--I want to compromise with the project, and right now the project's face is the developer.
So the board will send their letter. The board will go or not go to the public meeting. I'm going to go to the public meeting, with a letter that I've been asked to draft from the block. Which I guess I'd better get started on if I'm going to walk it around to get folks to sign. The whole thing kind of depresses me and I'm not sure why. Maybe because what is going on may be illegal, but is not directly immoral, and so I have a hard time taking a huge bravado stand against it. The drugs were illegal and the the prostitution and the whole opium den atmosphere was immoral and so it was easy to draw a line in the sand and push push push until something finally gave in. But this is a condo developer, out to make money, sure, out for his own profit and not for any real sense of making my neighborhood better, sure, but it's not the same thing.
In the end, I'm a block captain (which I became during the drug years) and my voice is loud and I guess I'd better use it the best I can. I'm not going to write an ultimatum-style letter, which I think is what the board will write. Maybe I'm naive, but I think I'm going to try to meet the developer in the middle. Can't we all win, somehow? Can't there be a middle way that works for everyone?
I keep having anxiety dreams. Last night, we were being forced to move somehow because our neighbors were selling their house. Whatever. I was so upset--I never thought I'd be the first to leave. Tried to cajole a neighbor into selling me his house. Other neighbors telling me to be sensible and give it up. Settling for a house a couple of blocks away. Being really depressed.
Maybe it's time to give block captain to someone else. Maybe that shouldn't be a for-life kind of job. I don't know. I know who I would pass it to. For that matter, he could be block captain too--there's no reason why there can be only two (we already have two, for goodness sake). I'll handle marauding thieves, drug dealing, and rabid dogs. He can handle the politics. Brent? You up for it?
So tomorrow: more meetings. Parish Council. The one meeting I really actually like to go to. Ok, I like Art & Environment, too. But Parish Council is so, well, like me. I always leave in a good mood and am not driven to drink. Although I wouldn't say no. Never could.