This will be my last blog of 2013 as I'm taking the next couple weeks off. I appreciate all of you who read or scan or even comment on my weekly musings. I've been doing this for the last couple years at the direction of my board, who wanted me to share my community activity and connections with a wider audience. I attend as many meetings as just about anyone else, so I probably do have a broader perspective on happenings around the Park than your average neighbor. That doesn't mean I have a deeper understanding or greater wisdom on anything.

This blog has provided me with a bit of a soapbox though, and I try to remember that and be as transparent as possible when I'm voicing an opinion. In my job, I feel I represent the entire community and so my agenda, and the Foundation's, is to support open and fair consensus building. We disagree on issues from time to time in this neighborhood and it's important to have opportunities to air those differences. The District Council serves as an elected body that promotes ideas, discussion and a fair process. The Foundation supports that and whatever decisions the community makes that come out of it.

We do face challenges.

As a planet, we have our work cut out for us. That is a big and very important truth that requires immediate action. I have and will continue to address that in future posts, but for this blog, I'm going to keep it localized.

The biggest challenge for South St. Anthony and the Creative Enterprise Zone is to manage the new development brought on by light rail. We need to build community between the industrial, creative, retail and residential neighbors. We need to continue to bring them together to address the growth that has arrived and will continue. Those who don't live there need to understand that what happens there will have an impact on the other areas of our community. We all need to support community-minded neighbors and their efforts across District 12.  

The biggest challenge I see for north St. Anthony Park involves housing. We have a large and growing population of empty nesters and seniors. They want to stay in the community and we need them. We need their time, their expertise and their experience in making a community. We need their financial support for our non-profits and retail. Because there are few housing options, they are staying in their homes, homes that could be new dwellings for younger families who bring new energy and ideas, and new children to keep our schools healthy. We need that diversity to thrive.

We do not have many options for condos or rental or transitional care. We do not have many options for affordable housing with rents that can be paid by retirees and working class families. If that doesn't change, we will lose our older members and prevent younger members from moving in. Our public institutions and retail will be threatened. We need more diversity of housing stock and we also need more diversity of population stock. I'm convinced that's the only way for our community to stay vibrant and healthy. 

That means change. That means new structures located in new places. That means new and old neighbors who will continue come together in new and old ways to continue to make this the great community we love. We can do this. We can find ways to make it work, to grow in smart and sustainable ways, but we have to be willing to talk and listen - and compromise. We have to build consensus around larger goals and then find ways to achieve them. That may require us to sacrifice what is for what could be, but it may also provide opportunities to make this place better. Hard as it may be for some of us to see how, I venture there are changes we can't imagine now that we will be extremely thankful for later.

May this holiday season be rich and meaningful for you and yours. May the new year bring hope and joy. I wish you all the very best and trust you will share it with everyone you can. I value what you bring to this community and communities far and wide. I'm happy to be part of a community that cares and shows it in so many ways.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.