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