All posts by Alex Lemberg

President’s Update: New Years Resolutions for the Castro

In January of each year, millions of Americans make resolutions. Resolutions to better themselves: to go to the gym (this is the Castro, after all); to eat healthier; to spend more time with family and friends. Resolutions to expand your horizons: reading more books; traveling to far-flung destinations; cooking new recipes.

Self-improvement is a noble goal, and an important one, but what of the greater good?

In 2020, my resolution is to help improve the Castro, this beautiful, historic, vibrant neighborhood we all live in. I have a lot of ideas, but what I really want is to create a way to get everyone in the neighborhood involved to make a difference. To enact and execute tangible, momentous projects and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

I invite you to share your vision, your passion, and your commitment at the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association’s first public meeting of the year. We will meet this Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 100 Diamond St.

 This meeting is an opportunity to brainstorm and help set the EVNA’s agenda for 2020 and beyond. I hope you will join us.

Some proposals I’ve heard from neighbors include the following:

  • Collingwood Park Revitalization/Rebuild
  • Neighborhood Block Party
  • Greater insight into and educational opportunities for planning and land use issues
  • Decreasing commercial vacancies
  • Creating hyperlocal services for our unhoused and transient neighbors
  • Traffic improvements for a safer neighborhood

The power of one person is inherently limited, but the power of a committed group of citizens can accomplish anything. Please join us on Thursday to help build a vision for the Castro’s future!

Giving Thanks to Each of You!

2019 is rapidly coming to an end and the holiday season approaches. I want to take this opportunity to thank our many volunteers, members, supporters, and neighbors. Community-based nonprofits depend entirely on the energy of all of us to make a difference in our neighborhoods, and I want to thank you for all the time, energy, and ideas that you’ve contributed this year.

I want to give special thanks to our outgoing board president, Mark McHale, who has dedicated countless hours to the EVNA and the Eureka Valley community over the last two years. We are all grateful for his leadership, charm, and warmth.

As we look forward into 2020, I want to encourage each of you dear readers to think of what would make our neighborhood a better place to live, and ways to achieve those goals. No one of us can achieve these goals on our own, but together our power to make a difference is unlimited. I hope to see all of you in some capacity in 2020, whether you can help us plan a community event, address planning and land use projects, participate in social events, or just come to one of our informative public meetings.

From the EVNA board, we wish you a warm holiday season and a happy new year.

Opinion: What is the Future of the EVNA?

In 2019, there is no blueprint for what a neighborhood association is or should be. And I doubt someone will write the preeminent guide to this question in the next few months. So where should the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association head in 2020?

For an organization founded in 1881, it is easy to fall into old habits. There are many things the EVNA does well: our public meetings are rousing successes and enjoyed by many. We provide a forum for valuable information to be conveyed to local residents. We’ve dabbled in social events—all of which have been fun, but not all well-attended. We provide a place, in our Planning and Land Use Committee, for residents and business owners to seek approval and support of home and business improvements.

The times, they are a-changing. The population of Eureka Valley and the Castro is growing, changing, shifting. While our neighborhood is still seen internationally as the Gay Mecca, fewer gay men are moving to the Castro and our community is becoming more diverse. Our vibrant shopping corridor and access to public transportation are making the Castro more of a hot commodity than ever before. And, frankly, our membership has not grown accordingly. We enjoy a level of support from our long-time members but have struggled to engage newer residents.

My vision is simple: an organization committed to community improvement. The Castro is filled with some of the smartest, most creative, interesting people around. While we represent a wide range of opinions and ideas, finding consensus among us is usually simple. For example, everyone agrees that we need to help our homeless population out of living on the street. We all want to see the Castro and Upper Market commercial district thrive and grow. We all crave beautiful and usable green spaces. Traffic and public safety and transportation improvements benefit all of us.

This amazing group of people, the Castro community, has the ability to make all these changes. But implementing this plan takes more than just a group of smart, creative, interesting people. It requires sweat equity, passion, and commitment.

I have two simple asks:

  • Make a commitment to taking on one project in 2020 that will help our community to improve.
  • Consider taking an even larger step to join the EVNA board.

In the upcoming year, I want the EVNA to focus on fewer, but more impactful projects. What those projects are is entirely up to our community—you. Think about what change you want to see the most, and, right now, commit to it. Write a SMART goal, set a New Year’s resolution, edit your vision board. Join me, and together we can make Eureka Valley an even better place to live.