Vol. 16, No. 19  Sept. 25 - Oct. 8, 2003


Dear Reader:

In our last issue, the Norwood News officially began its coverage of University Heights. The paper now covers every neighborhood in Community District 7. We thought we'd take this opportunity to tell all our readers a little bit about the paper's history.

In 1988, Mosholu Preservation Corporation (MPC), the paper's nonprofit publisher, shifted its focus. Our Economic Development program grew to encompass the broadly based effort to develop the Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District (BID). Our housing efforts focused on home ownership projects and a variety of community-oriented real estate projects like the Lead Free Safe House, a kindergarten annex for PS 94 and the Keeper's House renovation. We began a comprehensive effort to clean and beautify the gateways to the Norwood community in cooperation with NAG (Norwood Against Graffiti), the BID and Montefiore Medical Center, our parent institution, among others.

But the biggest "stretch" for us was starting the Norwood News. MPC was basically founded, in 1981, to renovate neglected local housing stock and help create a more stable neighborhood for Montefiore Medical Center. Montefiore trustees started it so that the then new North Pavilion, today's Silver Zone, would not be going up as the neighborhood was going down.

By 1988, the Bronx was well on its way to becoming a stunning story of successful renewal. Clearly it was time for MPC to do some new things. But a newspaper? What business did a housing group based in a hospital have running a newspaper?

People talk a lot about "community development." Once "urban renewal by bulldozer" became discredited, the care of cities became a much different effort. In the Bronx, the end of wholesale abandonment by the early 1980s meant that individual problem buildings were being successfully dealt with one, or a few, at a time, not just cleared for big "projects." More importantly, it meant that people were still here, working successfully to rebuild their neighborhoods, and that issues beyond the preservation of buildings had to be dealt with. So community development became the thing a lot of people said they were doing. What does it mean? I think most people are confused about it, but in some contexts it means giving people in communities the tools they need to gain control over their own situations.

As the late 1980s reconstruction gave new hope, we thought that people in Bronx 
neighborhoods needed more tools. If we used our resources to let the community set and talk about its own agenda, we could give our neighbors another way to have some say about what happens here, for everyone's benefit. So, for almost 15 years now, that's what we have done.

To our new University Heights readers, we promise to report what is important to you, just as we have in Norwood, Bedford Park and North Fordham. We won't be shy about our opinions and taking on controversial issues. However, for the most part, we exist to let you tell your neighbors, politicians and government officials what's important to you and to find out what's going on in your community. 

A friend gave us a poster when we moved into our new home here at the Keeper's House a few years ago. It's from the Syracuse Cultural Workers and it's called "How to Build Community." The last suggestion on the list is "Know that no one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this." That's what we do at the Norwood News every two weeks.

Dart Westphal

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