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October 3, 2002
 
Aubrey's Notebook:
Bringing the neighborhood together

Walking house to house recently to invite people to attend the first meeting of this neighborhood association, I have been impressed by the diversity of our neighborhood and the many areas of concern cited by its residents.

Many people who lived in the neighborhood in their childhood are still here or have returned here to retire. Many people are in this neighborhood because it is conveniently situated, relatively quiet and safe and displays a great deal of natural beauty. There are no expensive houses but there are some really nice houses as well as a few historic houses. There are some houses in need of a great deal of repair and some that are perfectly kept. There are even a few new ones and others being remodeled.

There are people who prefer the natural look that must have dominated this area when it was mostly pastureland up into the 1940s. Some dream of how it must have appeared before it was settled and encourage the native plants to grow to keep the air and water pure without demanding human care.

There are people who prefer the closely cropped look of a golf course and others whose plantings rival those in a botanical garden.

More important, there is an air of respect for and tolerance of the choices of others. Some want native plants to grow to feed the area's abundant and diverse population of birds. Others keep feeders full of store-bought and nourishing seed. However, almost everyone here appreciates the shade of the mature trees that grace many lots and the smaller, understory vegetation that provides food and nesting sites for many species of birds.

Popular but care-free flowering species such as the Rose-of-Sharon may be seen in many yards while others are abundantly populated by species that require constant attention and effort. My yard has blooms on the Rose-of-Sharon bushes starting in late June and more buds appear ready to burst open even in October if the frost doesn't come early. And these excite and please me as much as some of the flowering plants I have made much more effort to encourage!

Town Branch, which originates from now hidden springs and from runoff from areas such as Razorback Stadium and Walton Arena, flows through our neighborhood, providing not only some of the most beautiful back yards in all of Northwest Arkansas but also outstanding wildlife habitat, good fishing in some of the larger, deeper holes and a length of free flow over rocks that cleanses the runoff from Sixth Street and the campus before this water enters the West Fork of the White River on its way to Beaver Lake. The cannery to the west, despite the odor and noise and excess light that shines through the windows of bedrooms in some houses in the area is a valuable part of the neighborhood because it has provided employment for generations of residents.

The National Cemetery to the east provides a historic significance that few parts of Fayetteville can match. When guns are fired to salute the passing of veterans a few times a week, most of us hear the sounds and remember the sacrifices of these and other veterans of wars in our lifetime. The old cemetery to the south of the National Cemetery contains the grave markers of members of some of the city's earliest families.

The Salvation Army Store and shelter on 15th Street to the southeast and the Seven Hills shelter to the northwest on Sixth Street remind us to live a bit more prudently and unselfishly than we might because there is always someone who needs a bit more than we. It is never far to drive to donate items we no longer need or something for the kitchen stock of these worthy facilities. Many of us take pride in shopping for necessities at the Salvation Army Store and the resale shop that helps support City Hospital's efforts. We know that the small profit on what we buy in these shops is spent to help people nearby.

Two nursing homes City Hospital to the northeast and Rochier Heights on top of the mountain to the northwest remind us that our youth and strength will not always be with us and that we must throughout life consider the needs of the very young, the very old and the infirm.

This neighborhood is home to many retired people and to many young families. The children have to go a bit further to school now that Bates Elementary has closed, but Jefferson really isn't far. And it will be getting some of the most innovative programs in the city before long. And sometimes the children are endangered by careless, speeding drivers who cut through the neighborhood and the elderly are disturbed by the sounds of those speeding cars. But overall it is a relatively quiet and safe neighborhood. Most people in this neighborhood, except those who are students, can't afford tickets to Razorback basketball or football games, but many attend Razorback baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball and other events for less than the price of a movie and don't have to drive far to reach them. And many of us gather on weekend afternoons to play softball or basketball or soccer in Walker Park or walk a dog in Greathouse Park.

The Fayetteville trolley visits our neighborhood to provide inexpensive transportation and many people find the walk to 71 B and Sixth Street easy enough not to have to drive to shop for the basics or to enjoy a good restaurant meal.

Our neighborhood isn't perfect. But, together, we can improve it. And together we can try to see that the things that make it special don't change too rapidly.

— Aubrey Shepherd, Oct. 3, 2002

       

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Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

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