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.