My husband Ray and I have been looking for ways to get involved in our community for quite some time now. It has not been an easy task. I am a full time student, Ray sometimes doesn't get home from work until after 8 in the evening, and we have two school-age children and not much money to pay a babysitter. Luckily we found St. Alexis Episcopal Church and have been able to get involved in family friendly things there. As far as community events go, we have not been able to attend due to timing, no babysitter, or other things, so when Ray heard about the community meeting last night at Sneaky Beans he got excited and attempted to get home from work in time. Ray has a degree in criminal justice, works in loss prevention, and has a lot of practice at taking down an armed shoplifter. There is no doubt he could be of use to a community concerned with defending themselves against crime and looking out for each other. Unfortunately, Ray did not make it home from work in time and couldn't attend the meeting, but even without attending there were just a few things that irked me a bit.
I got the Facebook invitation about the Fondren community meeting and simply liked the idea that someone was motivated to do something they felt was positive for the community. I did raise an eyebrow at the invitation's initial wording of Fondren being a "war zone" but didn't take it personally. I did wonder what people that had been considering making Fondren their home might think after reading that, but to me it just seemed like someone had been moved by injustice and reacted passionately, although maybe a little too hastily. Kudos to him for having a mature attitude about the criticisms for that and changing the wording. What saddens me about that is that it was negative criticism and not a mentoring and supportive attitude that was taken in the comments about his wording and even the meeting in general. The sender of the invitation was accused of only being interested in the community crime level after being a victim of it himself. Is that really necessary? We all reach awareness at different times and the point is not how or when. The point is that we do reach it. I think instead of assuming and trying to make the guy feel bad for not being a part of something before, we should be congratulating him for making the change. Those who have more experience should be offering guidance and extending a helping hand to find a place for him to serve his community, not posting negative criticism. Instead of flat out refusing to go to the meeting, why not offer your help instead to fix the problems you see in it? We all have a place in this community and talents that can make it a great place. It is the job of the more established community helpers and activists to make room and embrace the newer ones, not knock them down.
Great column! That's the spirit! "It is the job of the more established community helpers to make room and embrace the newer ones, not knock them down." Even if you don't agree with the wording, the war is about the civilized vs. the uncivilized. If you want to discredit a grassroots community organization because of potential hysteria, it might be best to get to know your opposition first, not shoot first then ask questions later. You may have more in common than you think. Everyone who lives in fondren enjoys the neighborhood, and has a civic responsibility to respect their neighbors, and to hold each other accountable for their actions. Hopefully, that will help the rougher parts of the neighborhood take fondren seriously, feel accepted, and want to participate as well, and not look at the newer residents in the west end of fondren as disagreeable, easy targets, easy to run off. Sorry to all who were not able to attend, but rest assured there will be another opportunity to participate.