Commentary: Individuals’ ideas and energy help build community
By Ryan Flynn
A community exists wherever people share a connection. It is more than a collection of homes near one another. It is a bond we form through the blessing of sharing experiences and efforts.
So many examples occur so often that we frequently overlook their significance. Examples can be as small as shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk while they’re away or as prominent as planting a community garden or hosting a block party. Community is formed through calls to catch up and visits to welcome new neighbors.
In the Como Park neighborhood, the District 10 Como Community Council is simply an extension of our shared experiences and efforts. Our purpose, since 1975, is to continually bring our community together while working to improve the quality of life here. We do this by hosting engaging events, undertaking meaningful projects and advocating for residents. To that end, we’ve been busy.
We organize events throughout the year. Each event provides a specific service, whether it is a cost-effective opportunity to clean out old belongings through the Citywide Drop-Off, learning about our neighborhood’s history and ecology in a Sunday Series presentation, or enjoying an affordable, family event with neighbors during ComoFest.
District 10 committees, board members and volunteers also lead and complete projects of all kinds. District 10 partnered with Ramsey County to establish an organics drop-off site on Beulah Lane: that site allows residents to recycle their organic waste for composting instead of throwing it into the trash. District 10 helped neighbors establish a large, native garden at the intersection of Horton, Churchill and Van Slyke: that garden adds beauty and filters storm water. We are in the process of studying residents’ preferences for developing a small area business plan near Como and Snelling avenues. We are constantly working to improve the parks in our community, acting on residents’ concerns and preferences regarding traffic calming along Lexington Parkway, and examining how we can work more closely with local organizations, such as our schools, houses of worship and other nonprofit entities. These are just a few of our most recent efforts.
We continue to advocate for affordable housing for our senior citizens. A few years ago, District 10 lent support to the residents of Como by the Lake Apartments when there was real concern about what would happen when the property was sold.District 10 is currently urging the city to assist—through the use of tax-exempt bonds— in the redevelopment of the former Sholom Home property into new, assisted-living apartments.
The events, projects and advocacy that District 10 undertakes are possible because of community-oriented grants, the support of our three City Council members and our county commissioner, and the ideas and energy of numerous committed volunteers. In fact, it is because of residents who join our board and committees that we as a community council can effectively do so much work. Some of the examples described above came from an idea from a Como resident. We were happy to recognize these residents by adding them to the annual St. Paul Neighborhood Honor Roll in January.
If you have an idea that you think would benefit our neighborhood or a concern that we can address on behalf of the community, please reach out to us. In the same way that weeding a neighbor’s garden or shoveling a sidewalk makes a difference in their lives, your ideas and energy make a difference in our entire community. With your help, we can always do more together.
Ryan Flynn is board chair of the District 10 Como Community Council.