Walking through the streets of Summit-University, my project partner, Howa, and I found a neighborhood rich with cultural diversity from one end to the other. When we hit the Selby Avenue, we were welcomed with open arms and were fortunate enough to have a couple of great conversations to prove it. In this conversation, we will reflect on our interview, or should I say friendly chat, with Gerard- a fairly new resident in the heart of Summit- University’s Selby Avenue. Though his time here has been short (6 months), he can already see changes within what he considers to be a community in which he calls “home”. Please enjoy, as we did, getting an outsider’s view on Selby Avenue, a large part of the Summit-University Neighborhood.
How long have you lived here?
I just moved here… about 6 months (ago)
Do you like it so far?
Yea, actually I do. Actually, I do. One thing though, just a little too much police.
You don’t like that?
Yea, I don’t. I’m not a big fan of that.
Why do you think there are so many police?
I’d have to say because some people just don’t have any sense. They don’t have any no sense. They don’t know how to act. You see people (like that) always, you know every where you go.
Yeah… There’s a lot of police on the college campuses too. Is there a lot of younger people here?
I would say it’s, middle, mixed. Older and young people.
I think, from what I see, over that way (pointing to Summit Avenue) is more older people, is that right?
Yea, the older people. Older, more mature (laughs) and everything.
Both: Laugh and agree
Do you know about the history of this neighborhood?
Yes, and it was worse. It was bad at first. It’s much better now.
To begin, was there a lot of violence?
Well, I mean, I’ve only been here a short time but I definitely do see a change in the amount of violence.
So has the neighborhood changed at all since you’ve been here?
Umm… I can say a little bit because, in part of, “me”. Because of the way I am and how I was raised. I do see less (violence)…I stopped a lot of fighting, you know. I can’t stop everything but it’s getting better as far as violence goes.
I see… so what is the best part of the neighborhood.
I say one of the best thing about it is the community and our corner store guy. He helps out the kids, he gives them free food, gives money to the church.
Wow, I should start coming here more often!
Haha, he’s a sweetheart. He’s the corner store right there (points to about a block away). He’s sweet, he’s a good guy and I think that’s one of the good things about the community right now is that he’s keeping the community together.
That’s great, in what way?
He opens up to everyone. He helps there be more contact with different cultures.
Very nice, positive influence.
And you said the worst thing is the police?
I don’t like police either, don’t worry… Kidding, of course!
Would you say that you’re, kind of, active in the neighborhood?
Umm.. just now, really. I just started being active in it.
Sure, because you’re kind of getting used to it?
Yea, I’m getting used to it.
Do you think it’s a community? Do you think people are engaged in community actions here?
Let me rephrase that, Do you know a lot of people around the community?
Oh yes. Yea.
So it’s close knit?
Yes, very close knit.
As far as cultural diversity goes, is there a lot of that around here?
Oh yes, yea. That’s a good thing… to see different race, different people. And they’re actually helping each other out. Like, it was crazy at first. Africans and Somolians, we did not get along, for nothing. Now, we’re talking to each other. You know, we communicate. That’s good. The corner store guy, you know, he’s somolian and we’re best friends. And it’s wonderful now, talking to everybody. It’s good.
That’s awesome…. So you obviously feel welcome in this neighborhood, you feel like you fit in and don’t feel like an outcast? This is your home… does it feel like home? Since you’ve been here, in your short time?
Umm.. Yea it feels like home. I think I’m a little too nice sometimes. I helped out a lot of people; like some homeless people around the area, I let them stay here. I mean… it gets better by day. I do miss Eden Prairie where I used to live but this is much more convenient for me right here. It’s becoming home. I really enjoy it.
And that ‘s really what matters, is that you feel home.
Yea, I do. I really do.
That’s great Gerard. That’s about all we have for you. Thank you so much for your time. It has been a pleasure learning about your neighborhood. We hope it continues to grow.
No problem, thank you!