June 2019 Neighbor Spotlight Aidil Ortiz
What is the name of your neighborhood?
Old East Durham
How long have you lived in your neighborhood?
Tell us about your neighborhood.
The neighborhood is a very eclectic place. We have lots of children that are playing outside. There is always a lot of conversation, and cooking and visiting on front porches. We are a front porch community. We like to grow things- lots of people are growing things on the sides of their houses or have little raised beds. We are a scrappy and resilient community. We have made a lot happen without big plans or a lot of resources, and it has somehow all worked out. I appreciate that we have a lot of tolerance for people at different parts of their life journey, people with different health, financial or familial challenges. We are home to a lot with challenges and we hope our neighborhood can offer peace.
What successes have your neighborhood and community had?
I really love the entrepreneurial spirit of the neighborhood. Neighbors start their own businesses or social venture projects. I love all the work we did on Alston Avenue to be a friendly road for bikers and pedestrians. I love we saved our grocery store. I love that we planted new trees when our old trees were getting sick and I love that we have worked so hard on votership rates.
What are some concerns that you still have in your neighborhood?
We need to make sure new neighbors see themselves as contributing to multigenerational neighborhood traditions for an ecosystem of love and support. We want them to contribute and add to that story.
We need to make sure we don’t push out any of our businesses and residents who have been there for a while so that we can remain a place of possibility for new and long time residents alike.
What advice would you give to other community members?
Wherever there are people, there are activities that are lovingly planned. Learn the story of what’s been going on before deciding how you want to contribute or change things.
Don’t make assumptions about your neighbors. Look them in the eye and get to know them. Be someone who puts grease to the wheel of goodwill.
Whatever you think you might need, ask about it before duplicating what might already exist. There are people who would love an extra hand.
Do you have any upcoming opportunities for other people to get involved?
The NECD Leadership Council is a good place to start to learn more about events and initiatives in the neighborhood. It is a great opportunity to get involved in efforts that impact the neighborhood and can link you to City departments as well. We meet every month 3rd Thursdays at 5:30 PM.