In light of some recent characterizations made about “new” people running for election to the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association Board and because there isn’t a forum to let my extended neighbors know who I am and what I want to contribute to the neighborhood, I thought it might be warranted to blog about my history, my love for East Lawrence, and what I hope to contribute.
First, a little bit about my history:
I have lived in Lawrence my entire life. I went to elementary school at Schwegler, Jr. High at South (when it was still a circle) and graduated from Lawrence High School. My dad is a KU grad and worked in the airport consulting industry for most of his 40+ year career. My mom worked for Santa Fe Railroad in Topeka for 19 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom for my sisters and I, while handling a couple of health issues of her own. I love Lawrence and plan to live here for the rest of my life.
I have been volunteering as a Planning Committee Member for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Douglas County for the past 6 years. 2016 will be my 3rd year serving as the Event Co-Chair. In the time I have been Co-Chairing the event, we have raised over half a million dollars for the American Cancer Society’s programs and services in Douglas County.
I have been running meetings, volunteering with numerous charity organizations, planning large events, and public speaking since I was 11 years old. When my husband, Josh, and I moved to East Lawrence, about a decade ago, we began attending ELNA meetings, helping with the Block Party, baking for the Kickball concession stand, buying and wrapping items for the adopted family, etc. I was also involved in running the ELNA website for a while. We stopped attending ELNA meetings after some time because of the way we felt when we left those meetings. There seemed to be an overlying negative tone and the meetings ran later than I was willing to stay because of my job in Overland Park and the early commute.
We became involved again when East Ninth began to gain some speed. Josh and I have both attended hours of meetings, studied notes from meetings we were unable to attend, researched topics and asked questions as they came up. This time has been valuable in terms of really understanding the project as well as getting to know more of my neighbors in the community.
But, being a part of the ELNA Board is about much more than just East Ninth Street. Josh and I have lived directly on 9th Street for a long time. We are in the heart of one of the very best neighborhoods Lawrence has to offer. Now that I’m working at KU and don’t have an hour and a half commute every day, I’d like to dedicate some more time to the neighborhood association and be sure that my voice helps to shape the decisions that are made where the neighborhood is involved.
Below are a few examples of things I would try to bring to the table:
Working cooperatively with the City to establish protections for residents who have concerns about being priced out of their homes
Reaching out to all our neighbors to make sure that they feel comfortable sharing their opinions about neighborhood issues
Treating everyone (city officials, neighbors, visitors, etc.) with respect
Mobilizing volunteers to find ways to help neighbors who are struggling or need some sort of help that we’re able to provide
Encouraging young people in the neighborhood to get involved by providing additional volunteer opportunities (possibly an “Adopt a grandparent” style program)
Making meetings manageable for all who are interested in attending and having their voices heard
Making all agendas and meeting minutes available electronically
Focusing on and shaping positive change as we encounter it
Continuing to build on the great print and email newsletters we currently have
Encouraging continued active participation in City Advisory Boards, Committees and Task Forces
Possible expansion of the use of our website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts (not placing this duty solely on the neighborhood coordinator, but spreading the responsibility among multiple board members)
East Lawrence is great community and ELNA has been a significant part of making it what it is. I hope to work as part of the board to continue that tradition and build on it.