I got an interesting call from another agent this week that got me thinking...thus, also got me blogging.
She was working with a client who found a great loft at Werthan Mills (the same condos, coincidentally, where I have lived since 2006). He loved the place! But not the view. He was concerned that the unit he was considering looked out over a Metro Nashville Development Authority Housing Community, Cheatham Place.
Looking out on that community made him feel guilt. Guilt that he had so much and that the people he was looking down at did not.
I was touched. Touched that she came to me to ask for more information on how I feel about that. (For the record: I share the same view as her client - definitely not the same perspective, though.) Touched that her client shared such honest feelings.
I shared my perspective with her - and subsequently, in this blog, with others.
I live in the urban core - a neighborhood on the border of Germantown and Salemtown in Nashville. This neighborhood is filled with that something unique and special - DIVERSITY - that is so rare in the fabric of our suburbs. There are people of all incomes, races, religions...I call it the spice that keeps our neighborhood from tasting bland.
Looking back to when Boz and I moved here in 2006; we heard sirens at 1AM on our first night. They came from Cheatham Place. We both woke up when we heard them. And we made assumptions that I am ashamed of today.
The next day, I ventured out to learn a little more about Cheatham Place, which I had heard would someday be torn down and redeveloped into some fabulous housing community. The greyhounds and I went on a walk through the community. And, since neither of us has ever met a stranger, we made some friends. And over the years, we have learned a lot that has changed our view of the Cheatham Place neighbors.
I was lucky enough to meet Peaches, the sensational woman who manages the public housing program for Metro Nashville, whose office is across the street and next to Cheatham Place. She introduced me to the property manager, who explained those sirens I heard were an ambulance. Many of the residents of Cheatham Place are older, with limited health resources...ambulances are actually some of the only sirens we hear there.
Why not police cars? Turns out Cheatham Place is on the National Historic Register. It is an exceptionally well maintained community with long waiting lists to get in and close to a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bad behavior.
Over the years, Werthan and Cheatham have built a special relationship. There are many stories of this friendship, here are just a few:
- One of my Werthan neighbors does light errands and grocery shopping for an elderly Cheatham resident. She was surprised to see a fridge full of casseroles and prepared meals when she first dropped off groceries. The resident explained that ladies in her church across the street bring her more food than she could possibly eat, so she shares with other needy neighbors on a regular basis.
- Werthan organizes an annual Christmas gift drive for the Cheatham Place kids. As is typical of these events, the gift to us if far greater than the gifts the kids receive.
- We also teamed up with the kids of Cheatham Place to spend an afternoon painting the NumberWall mural on 8th Avenue
So, I explained to that agent the view of Cheatham Place from where I sit on my Werthan balcony:
- I see camaraderie as neighbors share the bounty of their lives with a community of friends and family during picnics and gatherings on our beautiful Nashville spring afternoons
- I see fellowship at the Friday Fish Fry of the adjacent Baptist Church
- I hear laughter of the children from both of our communities playing in the fire hydrants opened by the local firemen during the hot months of summer
- I feel hope for people who are getting help from our city to improve their lives and raise happy, healthy families
- I have respect for these people who have become my friends and neighbors.
So that's my view from the balcony...If you're considering Germantown or Salemtown, I hope this perspective helps.