August 2018 Neighbor Spotlight Gina Chung
What is the name of your neighborhood?
Old North Durham
How long have you lived in your neighborhood?
Tell us about your neighborhood.
Old North Durham (OND) is a diverse neighborhood just north of downtown. It is filled with wide variety of Durhamites including singles as well as families, renters alongside longer-term residents, bikers, gardeners, dog lovers, organic food lovers, historic home lovers as well as many who fear they will be displaced because of gentrification.
Although I’m not familiar with all parts of OND, I can say that in general people are friendly and open to getting to know their neighbors; many times they just need opportunities to do so.
What successes have your neighborhood and community had?
I think our biggest success has been in simply connecting people to each other. On our street (West Lynch), several people have hosted neighborhood dinners on Sunday evenings, which have been great opportunities for people to get to know each other and develop relationships over time. I also coordinate block parties typically twice a year. These have had fairly large turnouts and have brought people together who otherwise might not have a chance to meet and interact. These types of casual events have allowed neighbors to get to know each other and become involved in each other’s lives. Also, when needs arise within or outside of our community, we can actively partner with each other to meet those needs because we already have relationships that bind us together.
What are some concerns that you still have in your neighborhood?
There is still a lot of socioeconomic disparity evident in many parts of OND and persistent bias in some of our interactions. The stark contrast in the homes on our streets is just one way in which these sorts of disparities are evident.
People will also sometimes stereotype and make unjust assumptions about people they do not know. These things are not unique to OND, certainly, but OND is not immune. This means we still have plenty of work to do to improve our small community even with the valuable relationships we have developed thus far.
What advice would you give to other community members?
- Smile and greet folks that walk down your street that you may not know—maybe even strike up a conversation. If you have kids, have them play in the front yard so they can greet neighbors who are passing through.
- Move beyond the listserv if you have a particular concern or need. Reach out to your neighbors and generate ideas together for how your collective problems can be solved.
- Don’t make assumptions about someone who may look different or live differently.
- Listen first. Ask questions, not just so that you can respond with your opinions, but so that you can understand better how you can care for and serve that particular neighbor.
- Actively look for ways to communicate effectively with one another (in person, social media, text, etc).
- Break bread together often.
Do you have any upcoming opportunities for other people to get involved?
Folks are welcome to host a Sunday night dinner in the neighborhood. They can also contact me to if they would like to help set up/participate in our next block party in October.