Upham's Corner Online

UCIA Meeting - January 27, 2012

Posted: January 26, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

The Upham's Corner Improvement Association held a general meeting on Friday, January 27, 2012 - 9am - 55 Virginia St, Dorchester.  While the meeting was scheduled for one hour (at most), it lasted a full two hours.  Attendees (Shemiram, Catherine, Carol and Nancy) had a lot to say.

The discussion has been organized into the following general areas to make it easier to wade through.
  1. The Good News in Upham's Corner
  2. Working on specific issues
  3. Improvement Strategies
  4. Grassroots Approach
  5. Community Standards
  6. Forming an NRT
  7. UCIA - Reaching out
  8. Belief systems & thought forms

The Good News in Upham's Corner

Nevarez Clothing GearShemiram spoke with Henry, the owner of Nevarez Clothing Gear, praising for how clean the sidewalk is on Dudley Street from Monadnock to the liquor store.  Henry pays the "locals" to keep the sidewalk clean.  He also put out his own trash barrel for years (until it was stolen).
Golden Broom
Next Golden Broom award

Another topic to consider is the Golden Broom award.  Who else in Upham's corner is deserving of this award?

Shemiram recommended the person she complimented and talked about earlier in the meeting.  (Henry)

Nancy: we need to be sensitive to the business owners.  Some of them don't want to be in the limelight.  They operate quietly.  Henry pays Andreas to clean the street.  That's why the street is so clean.  In my opinion, he is deserving of the Golden Broom award.  I have wanted to give Henry this award for the longest time.

Nancy: All of us in the group need to walk by his business establishment, say hello and see what you think.  As a group we give out the Golden Broom award.  So we all want to agree that he's deserving of this award.  He's had a trashcan out in front of his business for years and it's been stolen one or more times.

Pierce although, I visited the liquor store and talked with them about the trash in front of the store on the sidewalk.  I pointed out the quantity of lottery tickets that end up on the ground in front of the store.  Would they mind putting out a trashcan?  They responded almost overnight, shackling the trashcan to the light pole in front of their store.  They also shovel the sidewalk and sweep in front of their store.  In my opinion they are another good business for this award.

Right next to the liquor store is L&M Bargain which doesn't clean up anything. 

So you have a block between Monadnock & Virginia.  The section closest to Monadnock is clean and the section towards Virginia gets messier.  What's even worse is Rainbow on the other side which is owned by the same person who owns L&M. So we do have to take this one step at a time.
Strand Theatre
Strand Theatre Task Force

Shemiram: I was thinking that we should invite people who are associated with the Strand Theatre and art or music or dance or any other type of art and have a potluck dinner.  We could introduce ourselves - who we are, what our standards are, and I will be happy to host it.  We could invite Andrea Kunst and Barbara Lewis.

Nancy: Members of UCIA are who we are and that determines who UCIA is.  The Improvement Association is not a machine.  It's a bunch of people who have ideas and vision.  We have vision about the arts.  So Shemiram wants to promote that.

Nancy: I can speak with Barbara the next time I see her and mention again the Improvement Association and just let her know what were doing, what we are up to.  Keep in mind that these people are very busy.  If we do have a potluck dinner, we will want to have it as more than just a social gathering.  We might want to give a formal presentation with our ideas, or at least pass out a statement of what we see for Upham's Corner, saying we want to share this with you.

Catherine: I think it's a good idea.  I don't know these people but maybe if we do a potluck after a while when we have ourselves better defined.  If these are very peak busy people they are liable to say: This is just a bunch of women. Why am I spending my time here?"

Nancy: One way for people to get to know us is for us to show up at some of these meetings. UrbanSites is a task force focused on making the Strand Theatre into a destination. 

Nancy: At my first Strand Task force meeting, I represented myself as a resident of Upham's Corner, not the editor of a newspaper and not as a member of the Improvement Association and that's how they accepted me - as a resident.  Following the meeting, I reintroduced myself to the people I wanted to know better, and gave them my business card.  That way at the beginning of the meeting, I did not put them on the defensive.

Shemiram: We have to establish a relationship.
Good News
The Good News of Upham’s Corner

Nancy:  This is a new section to Upham’s Corner News. I need contributions.  The good news can be
  • Whatever people are doing to help other people
  • This is why I read books
For example, Aaron could write an article on how much fun it is to learn how to play the guitar?  Learning to play the guitar is fun. Catherine could possibly write an article about yoga.

Working on the Issues

L&M Bargain Shemiram:  One day I found trash on Virginia St – hangers - and put it right in front of L&M Bargain - right at their front door.  “We want to let them know we are watching and that this is going to continue.”

Shemiram: Another day I went to L&M bargain.  I said: "Ladies, I have spoken with you many times starting  way before Christmas. I’ve come to you many times and spoken to about the trash on Virginia Street. I live on Virginia Street. My home was on Virginia Street and you are trashing it. Please remove the trash and the weeds. The weeds are trapping the trash."

I got back the same response I always get which is: "Oh, yes, we will do it, and we will do it. That same day after I got home, I called Code Enforcement."
1 Arion Street The house at the corner of of Davern and Arion adjoins the Pilgrim Church property in the back. Shemiram went to Amado Enterprises on Dudley St and spoke with Solomao Amado who owns the house and the business.

I said to him: “I’ve been watching this yellow bag at the back of your property just sitting there for two years full of construction debris.” He didn’t say much but he did appear to be surprised. He said: "It hasn't been there that long."  I said:  "Well, maybe ony a year and a half."  I also pointed to him all the trash at the back of his property behind the picket fence.

Catherine:  Aaron reported that property, too. 

Shem: That cleaned up the property so I wrote him a very nice note and included one of our business cards.  I dropped it into his work mailbox.
St. Kevin's
Nancy:  In the next issue of Upham's Corner News, there is an article about St. Kevin’s.  It talks about the fact that in Kevin's property is maintained through a series of volunteers including BC High.  As I also said that a group of volunteers from the Improvement Association went over there and cleaned up in front of the convent.  Of course that's not really how it happened.  We were annoyed and went over there to clean up.  But who knows.  Maybe God sent us over there as volunteers, and we had no idea. 

Nancy: Week after week, our group is getting stronger.  When the warmer weather comes along, we will be in a better position to deal with the condition of St. Kevin's if it hasn't changed.  There may still be a possibility of having a yard sale, or Fr. Jack may have changed his mind.  He may think that there are liability issues.  So what.  What's important is that we made him an offer.  We had a crazy idea.  “Wow.  What treasure.”  We had something positive to say and to offer.

Why involve Code Enforcement and get them another $25 fine?  What good is that going to do?  Our goal is to get that site cleaned up.  Giving them an orange ticket doesn't get it cleaned up.  So we want to go to the parish – to Fr. Jack - and say: "How can we help?"

As an example, when I found the doors of the church open, I called him and I said: "Can I meet you over there?  I want to make sure you're safe.” he said: "No, no, no."  The point is that you offer help.  Either the people accept your help or they do it themselves.  If you bring it up in a really friendly way, often times it causes people to say: "I better do something about this." 

We will contact Fr. Jack in a month or two, and we’ll ask:  “How are you doing?”  The Upham's Corner Improvement Association wants to give you help.  There are some issues on the property.  We want to look better.  How can we help?”
Pilgrim Shelter Pilgrim Shelter- Making Progress

I am working with Rev. John about the shelter.  We had discussed that before.  I was writing and article but I have done a 180° turn.  I did research on the shelter, and I found out some really good things.

One of the criticisms I leveled is that the director of the shelter is not attending neighborhood meetings.  Rev. John said the director will now start attending SNI meetings.  SNI was selected over UCWNA because the West side Association tends to focus on the residents and not the businesses.  That's left up to UCMS.  The meeting that looks at the whole of Upham's Corner from a safety perspective is SNI.

That the shelter organization will be attending the SNI meetings is progress. 
Vinfen Group Home
Catherine: I am still working on the Vinfen issue. There is still trash in front of the house and the vehicles that come there continue to engage in loud honking. This is an ongoing process.  It will not stop. We have to go again and again to the head person at Vinfen. I wonder what it is they don’t understand. Who is against working and doing the job right?

Shemiram: A visitor came to my house at a time when somebody was honking outside.  The visitor spoke in Spanish to the driver and asked him not to do that anymore.  She says the driver said OK.

Nancy: Consider expanding the approaches you use in dealing with the Vinfen problems.  Here are some new (and old) ideas:

1.    Try to get other people talking with Vinfen, not just Catherine and Aaron. 
2.    Maintain consistency.  Let them know you haven’t given up.
3.    Consider writing to the Department of Mental Health because somebody is paying Vinfen to manage that group house.
4.    Consider going to a Vinfen board meeting
5.    (Shem)  We can write a letter from UCIA signed by all of us
Church at Sayward
How to Approach the Church at Sayward & Columbia Rd

Carol:  I want to flyer the neighborhood regarding cleanliness.

Nancy:  Whatever you do, you have to be able to follow-up.  Ask yourself what good will you be accomplishing with the action step you take.  If the church is your primary objective, I personally would start with the church.  I would go visit the church and introduce myself.  Give them one of your business cards if you like.  Give them a flyer and say: "How can I help?"  Just say “Hello, hello hello.”  Tell them you’ll stop back in again.  Be sure to tell them how you feel.  "It really hurts me when I is see all this trash."

Carol: I can't do that.  I'm too shy.  It is too painful for me.

Nancy: Shemiram is right here.  She is available as a resource.  She's happy to work with you.  Let Shemiram be your mouthpiece.  You'll have a lot of fun organizing a campaign but do not make it against the church. 

Think of it this way.  They didn't know they were always wearing blue.  In other words we need to teach them that we have standards here in Upham's Corner.  Tell them about yourself.  Tell them you go to church and tell them we love churches in the neighborhood.  Think of all the great things you can say to them. 

Go on the Internet and research that church.  It's on the Internet.  I've already looked.  Just tell them that you looked them up on the web.  Show them you understand something about their approach to religion.  Establish a relationship with them.

Get together with Shem and you guys can figure out a little strategy on how you're going to go over there and say hello.  Then say hello, find out what their office hours are, tell them who you are. 

Catherine: They'll say: “Oh, oh, trouble is coming.”

Nancy: Distributing flyers doesn't do much good.  Westside Neighborhood meetings are flyered all the time and who shows up meetings?  The same people.  It's personal relationships that make the difference.

Shemiram: To just put a flyer in somebody's door is not a help.  When I distribute flyers, I'm going to knock on the doors and also talk with them. 

Catherine: There's way too much stuff out there.  You have to be able to find a way to connect with them that goes to the heart.
St. Kevin’s

Carol: After the last meeting she went to the library to research the St. Kevin's project.  She found the planning collaborative report but nothing else.  Carol discussed having analyzed the approaches to parking and has some comments about it. 

Nancy:  The St. Kevin's Area Planning Collaborative was a joint venture by DSNI, Upham's Corner Main Street and the Westside Neighborhood Association.  Joseph Corcoran gave a gift to UCMS ($17k) which was used to fund several efforts by Main Street including what is referred to as SKAPC - the St. Kevin's Area Planning Collaborative.  This group generated an important report which theoretically provides guidelines to potential developers on what is acceptable to Upham's Corner at St. Kevin's site.

St. Kevin's developers (POUA) state that they used SKAPC as a starting point.  They had to veer from it due to cost.  POUA presented their proposal to the community and, in essence, the group involved in creating the SKAPC report forgot about its existence and what it said.  During the March 2010 hearings at the BRA, no one brought up the fact that what the developers are planning differs significantly from what the community of Upham's Corner really wanted.

I have been involved in conversation with Fr. Ahern, the priest responsible for St. Kevin's.  He sent both John Barros (Ex Director of DSNI) and myself e-mail stating that the police had just depicted five squatters from the St. Kevin's buildings.  It's important to note how much influence John Barros has on the St. Kevin's development.

John Barros is extremely influential in Roxbury and on the edges of Upham's Corner making.  I have tried taking contact with him, trying to get him to come to some of our meetings regarding St. Kevin's.  He won't give me the time of day.  No one from DSNI will.  They support what the archdiocese developers are recommending.

Considering your planning background, Carol, I will get together with you regarding the report that I'm putting together about St Kevin’s.  The due date is February 10.  We need to put together a counter proposal of some sort.  If all we do is say why subsidizef housing is bad, that doesn't fill the gap because we need to say what we want, not what we don't want.  I think the next UCIA meeting should focus on St. Kevin's.

Is the Arch-Diocese our Enemy?

Nancy: I try to learn as much as possible from everybody here.  Catherine is intellectual while Shemiram is very friendly and outgoing.   I learned from Shemiram to make friends.  That's what I'm doing with Fr. Ahern.  I'm making friends with him.  I call him and let him know things.  In the process of making friends with him, I have heard him talk about his true objectives.  He needs money for a trust fund to support the churches in the parish. 

Bob Haas is afraid that the Catholic Church is going to destroy the St. Kevin's site.  He has said so at UCWNA meetings.  This is absolute  nonsense.  He operates from a position of fear.  If you operate from a position of fear, you get nothing.

I support Fr. Ahern in creating his trust fund.  Do you think Fr. Ahern wants that building burned?  That's nuttiness.  He would get nothing for his trust fund if the building burned.

Catherine: Exactly.  We (the residents) say amen to anything that comes along and as a result, the people who have a connection to the top like John Barros can simply call the shots.  If you find away to ignore the residents,  then you can remain in control.  They don't want to hear from you, so they're very happy when nobody shows up at the meetings.

Regarding St. Kevin's, we have to be very strong in speaking up for what we want because this is our neighborhood and we live here.  We are not trying to make anybody poor.  We are trying to have a nice community.  Developers, on the other hand, do not have the same perspective or thought as the people who live in the community.  They have their own goals, there own perspective and their own objectives, often times making money, no matter what the impact is on the neighborhood.

What we want, as residents who live here, is not necessarily in the best interests of the developers.  We have to be careful of people who are bureaucrats.  Anyone who becomes politically connected in any way automatically gives up some of their freedom.  Bob Haas has been around in the neighborhood for decades.  He also works for DSNI and is on the Board of Directors of Main Street.  All of that impacts his ability to speak up honestly for the neighborhood.

Bureaucrats are people who work to accomplish the objectives of the organizations they work for.  They do not necessarily want to hear from the people who live in the community.  When Aaron and and I delivered notices for the Westside neighborhood Association, we spoke to a lot of residents.  They were very vocal in their positions about St. Kevin's but none of their opinions have made it to the public meetings.

Improvement Strategies

Talk not Enough
The Fallacy of Just “TALK”

Nancy:  Do you know how many stories I've written in Upham’s Corner News and there's nobody to follow up on any of the issues I have raised?

That is why Rev. John I started the Improvement Association.  We are the action comp one of Upham's Corner News.  If we only meet once a month, then it's difficult to do any kind of serious follow-up.  The NRT in Grove Hall meets every two weeks.  We should plan on meeting as often as we need to handle the situations at hand. 

Shemiram: The letter to John Hosmer is an example of a follow-up.  We haven't forgotten him.

As an example of follow-up, Shemiram wrote a nice person letter to Amado for his clean up work.  We could optionally follow that with a letter from UCIA that says the same thing but that also puts an emphasis on our group, who we are and our goals.

Make sure people don't forget their promises. When dealing with people, 
  • You say thank you,
  • You say thank you and then
  • You say it again. 
Clean-up Strategies Walking the "Talk"

Nancy: I really love what you are doing, Shem, because you are practicing the steps of the campaign. I want to laud you and praise you because you are walking the talk. You are doing things that practice reinforcing cleanliness in Upham’s. As a result we are finding out as a group how people are reacting.  This is important for figuring out the right strategy.

From the perspective of the businesses, we are a phantom.  They have absolutely no idea who is putting trash in front of their store. The see the trash and they wonder what is going on here? Who did this?  Shemiram, the vigilante, is giving them a message. Trouble is they are getting confused. 

That’s why Rainbow, on seeing the trash Shemiram put there, blamed Paraiso Restaurant.  Eventually, we will want to engage in a more concerted effort. We're not ready for that now.

Shemiram:  She discussed the “Upham’s Corner Shines” campaign.  UCIA started out with the New Year's eve resolution about cleanliness.  We are working on another flyer which will be part of the Upham's Corner Shines campaign. We probably will not be starting a campaign until it's warm up.  The Boston  Shines event is late April.
Multi-Level Approach One Step Process Not Enough

Nancy: I’d like to step back and take a look at how we approach handling individual issues. You have to use a multi-level approach to solving these problems.

If you say: "I called the city and reported the problem,” I will tell you that is what everybody does. And that is all they do is. After all, who wants to go to somebody’s face and say to them: Clean up your act.” That’s a very tough thing to do.

So in our midst, we have Shemiram, the vigilante, the Hawk. And she has no difficulty going up to someone and stating her request.  On top of that, she does it in a nice way.

Step 1 Observe - walk the neighborhood and make notes of its
Step 2 Action:  Report to Code Enforcement.
Step 3
Action:  Engage in personal contact with the person whose behavior you want to change. 
  • Approach them very nicely. 
  • Introduce yourself. 
  • Explain very simply why you are there and what you are trying to accomplish. 
  • Provide information about the organization.
  • Provide contact information.  Give them your business card (email/phone #)
  • Tell them about Uphams’ Corner standards.
  • Tell them you will contact them again (and give a date)
Step 4 Reinforce the message by having UCIA write a letter stating the same as what was conveyed at the meeting
Step 5
Make sure there is change.  Otherwise, bring up the issue at a UCIA meeting
Step 6
If the problem is resolved, write a thank you.  Make that person / business into an “honorary” member of UCIA.

Grassroots Approach

Residents Being Left Out
Not getting input from residents

Catherine: I do feel that a lot of organizations in the Upham’s Corner area are not working with the residents.  They know how to work with people of their own type, people they are connected to in similar organizations throughout the City.  But they don't know the residents and they are not making a sufficient effort to engage the residents.  As a result,  they don't know who they are working for.

Nancy: I'd like to build on Catherine's idea.  After a while attending these meetings, you see the same people at every single meeting.  Without the presence of new people, there's no way to get new ideas.  We need to have a bunch of Upham's Corner residents at those meetings so that the official people at the meeting can get a different perspective.

I can be pretty blunt at any UCIA meeting, because I am talking about other people.  But it's real tough to say at these meetings: "You're going down the wrong track." (Criticism, criticism, criticism) That's never going to work.

But I am going to tell you, members of UCIA, they need some fresh blood.  So I invite you to go to the Strand task force meetings.  I will pass the e-mail on to you that I'm getting about the Strand.

Catherine: It almost feels like they don't want to have any input from the residents.

Shemiram: They have their own agenda and they want to press on with what they think is right.

Catherine: People here live their lives thinking that nothing can be changed.
Bottom Up
Grassroots approach

Nancy:  Max likes to say:  I'm in charge of neighborhood cleanup.  Do you want to help?  In other words, Max wants us to help him.  Do UCIA members want to be his assistants?  It's not that I don't want to help him. In fact Max and UCMS are both terrific assets for Upham's Corner. But if we are a legitimate organization, we need UCIA to stand on our own two (many) feet. 

Shemiram: Through his letter Max is saying we are going to need help from the City to make a difference here.

Nancy: That's an old line of thinking and that's what everyone believes.  The proper way to do it as grassroots.  Start here and take charge of your self.  Establish yourself and network with the City.  You can't just cry out: "I need help."

Catherine: That is why it is not working.  Efforts towards change are not starting at the bottom.  They're always starting at the top, and that doesn't work. 

Nancy.  Any organization including the City of Boston that effects change from a top-down approach - that is a welfare mentality.  I am not speaking against people who are poor.  The term "welfare mentality" is a general expression for saying: “Somebody else will do it for you me. “  Forget that idea. 

Catherine: And that's why we are in the state we are.

Carol:  People have to start the process themselves. 

Nancy:  “Why can't the City do this for me?" is what people say.  "Why can't they do this for me?"

Catherine: America needs to clean itself up.

Community Standards

Community Standards Can Upham's Corner have its own Standards?

Nancy:  I did research on what conditions constitute a reason for Code Enforcement to give out of ticket.  It's very limited.  So code enforcement will do something but they won't do everything.  Upham's Corner needs to have standards separate from the City of Boston.

  1. How you get people to agree to those standards?  It's easy.  You just say these are the standards. 
  2. Who should set the standards?  Anybody who is willing to “stick their neck out” and take a risk.
  3. How do you set the standards?  You walk the talk. 
More about Setting Standards

Nancy:  Ask yourself:  “What bothers you about the condition of our neighborhood?” Then over and over again in your head, tell yourself:  “This is what I want to see.  This is what it means to me have a clean Upham’s Corner, a beautiful Upham's Corner, an artistic Upham's Corner, an inviting Upham's Corner.” 

Over the course of weeks and months, you will develop a dialogue in your head.  As a group, we can discuss what we think the standards we want to promote. 

Remember you can’t say "enforce" because we don't have enforcement capability.  But we can promote.

All of this should be done before we start the Upham's Corner Shines campaign.  We need to know very clearly what we are talking about.  If we know what our standards are, we can send out letters to the businesses.  A letter from UCIA will make more sense and be more effective if we have determined our standards.

In determining our standards, we don't want to work in isolation. Our first contact should be Flavio Daveiga from the Department of Neighborhood Services – DNS.  When we meet with him, we can say:  “Here are our suggestions.  We need your feedback.  What do you think?" 

I recall visiting Code Enforcement, “This is what I'd like to do.”  The response was:  “Sorry, lady.  We can't enforce that.”  The reason is this: they can only enforce that they have been authorized to enforce.  There is a list which is available online.  I will bring it  to the next meeting.  While it is a limited list, it's a start.
Common Ground
Concept of "the Common Ground"

Nancy: Before we can do an NRT, we have to set up our standards.  That is step number one.  We have to know what we are talking about.  Maybe we could talk about that at the next UCIA meeting. It might take several meetings before we figure out where standards but that is okay.

Catherine: I have a focus on the "common ground."  The common ground needs to be respected.  Why don't we have a common ground pledge? 

Nancy: Notice the following.  On her own, Shemiram created a New Year's Eve pledge about cleanliness.  And now Catherine is coming up with the common ground pledge.  Both of these are very consistent with each other. 

Catherine: We are calling all people to be involved.  The minute we step out our front door, we are in the common ground, and we need to respect the common ground.  Giving it a name and having it be something you can take part in - that gives people something they can refer to.   We need to anchor our goals in an idea.  Words are very powerful.  If you don't like the term common ground, we can call it something else.  It doesn't matter. 

Hold onto your idea and help get it into people's minds.  Talk about it again and again.  Finally it will become a reality.  People will feel proud of it more and more.  Here's another expression: "common ground test."  You can go to your neighbor and talk about the "common ground test," and you'll both know what you're talking about.

Shemiram: That brings us to the question: What is our philosophy?  As part of putting together the NRT, we will need to introduce our philosophy. 

Nancy: I'll bring a copy of philosophy for the next meeting.  We can always update the document.  The philosophy was created six months ago and probably needs to be updated.

Forming a Neighborhood Response Team

Walking the Neighborhood
Neighborhood Response Team:  NRT

The NRT stands for "neighborhood response team" and is an initiative sponsored by the City of Boston.   So Upham's Corner could request having NRT but there has to be an organization that is willing to sponsor it.  Main Street could sponsor it , SNI could request it, UCIA could request it.  NRT is the most effective way to make a difference in cleaning up a community by far and away.

But you can't start one without having done your homework.  If we want to start an NRT, Rev. John would be willing to allow us to meet at his church because we would need a public space.  But we would have to get our act the other.  We would need to walk through the community in advance to identify issues that resolution.  

Neighborhood walks are intended to identify issues, so they don't have to be done in advance.  But if you are an organization, you definitely want to have your research done in advance so you know what you're talking about.  Imagine trying to answer this question without having done our homework: "So what are the issues?”   Duh ..  D.

In the fall Shemiram and I started doing this.  We walked for two blocks on Dudley Street and I had pages of problems covering that small area.  It was overwhelming.

Nancy: If you hold a neighborhood walk-through, there are at least six groups from the City of Boston that it can, or should be attending.
  • Neighborhood services
  • public works
  • transportation
  • police
  • inspectional services
  • elected officials
Opportunity for UCIA
Opportunity to Form an NRT

Max at UCMS is busy with a thousand things. 

One problem with the SNI organization is their inconsistency.  The December meeting was canceled and replaced by a neighborhood walk.  The January meeting was canceled.  As a result there is no follow-up to the December walk. That the SNI organization is not following through on the December neighborhood walk indicates a lack of follow-up for our community.

This condition gives us the perfect lead-in, the opening, to sponsoring an NRT because cleanliness is our focus anyway.  But first we have to get our act together.  Over time I personally think our organization is going to head towards an NRT.  Maybe some other organization Upham's corner will get their first.  Great!  It doesn't matter as long as an NRT for Upham's corner is established.

I think we'll get there before anybody else.  I think will have meetings every two weeks.  But if we do this our group has to be able to commit to this activity.  This includes doing walk-throughs, holding the meetings, and doing the follow-up.  So it is a big commitment.  If we are not able to commit to this, then we cannot sponsor an NRT.

So taking all long perspective, established NRT is when the future.  First we have to take organizational steps including our philosophy, our operating procedures, holding walk-throughs, putting together our standards.

Shemiram: our standards are like our philosophy.  Our standards will simply be in greater detail.

Nancy: I think that's what we work on next.

Basic Plan for Creating the NRT

  1. Initially, setting out to create an NRT, we would probably just want to do it alone.

  2. Pick out a certain geographical area of Upham's Corner. 

  3. UCIA walks through that area and makes a list of all known issues.

  4. Network and meet with DNS – Flavio Daveiga.

  5. Listen to his ideas and suggest starting an NRT

Letting the World Know UCIA Exists

Advertising UCIA
Who Knows that UCIA Exists?

Carol: Does everybody in the neighborhood know that we are having UCIA meetings? 

Catherine: Does anybody still know that we are alive?

Nancy: I've only been sending out notices to us.  It’s like talking about not having a potluck too early because we are still getting our feet wet.  We're still trying to figure out what we want to do, why we exist, how we are going to approach things.

Catherine: We have to accomplish a few things.

Reaching out to Others

Shemiram: I reached out to Catherine Walker.  She is a midwife who lives on Glendale Street and who has lived in this neighborhood for decades.  I came here in 1984 and she was here way before that.

I told her about the Improvement Association.  She said she would be happy to come to our meetings.  Unfortunately she overslept today.  She asked to make sure she knew about the time of the next meeting.  She also said that she has some issues that she would like to raise.

One of the residents sent me a nice Letter to the Editor, and I responded back to her, thanking her.  I also mentioned UCIA and invited her to attend.  To response whatsoever. 

Focus on the Core Group

Nancy: So we have a core group - the people who come to the meetings regularly - Joanne, Shemiram, Nancy, Carol, Catherine.  There are people on the outskirts who have expressed interest, for example, the people who came to the September and November meetings but who don't seem to come back.  I have not been e-mailing them.

What I say is that it is better to have a core group of active people than to have a huge mailing list of people who never pay any attention.  I do not feel like sending out notices - detailed notices - that open us up to criticism.  But if you have somebody you are close to and you trust the person to receive our mailings in the right spirit, let's add them to the mailing list. Over time we will grow. 

I have an 800 person mailing list for the newspaper.  I'm lucky if 250 people open the newspaper.  You have to personally draw people into an organization.  E-mails are not the way to attract people.  Personal relationships are.

Catherine: if people are interested, they will join.  They have to be attracted to what we are doing.  They have to be curious.  I always say that.  If you are not curious, you are not going to check us out.  Also one meeting is not going to do it.  You have to come to several meetings.  People must bring their own ideas to the meeting and share with us.

To send out the notices, I use Gmail so it doesn't cost me any money.  If I were to send out notices to a whole bunch of people, there could be a price to pay.  If I were to annoy somebody and they respond with a nasty note saying: "Don't send me these notices."  Please, I don't need that stress.

Belief Systems & Thought Forms

Thought Forms Thought Forms Create Who We Are

Catherine:  Different people come from different belief systems.  Everything around them has to conform to that belief system even if it has been proven to them many times over that they were "wrong."  Even if others can see how a person’s is thinking is incorrect, still that person won't change their mind.  And why?  Because that's who they are.  Some of these people will actually see a connection that proves they are right when the fact there is nothing there.  For anybody listening to these people, if we are not alert, we may accept that what they are saying is the truth.

We can change the thought form.  That's what visualization is all about.  Visualization creates another thought form.  From there you can create another reality.  We are what we simply are.  We are the example of our thought form.  So we get together in groups, we experience each other's thought form.  We have to realize that we are all different and we have to learn to get along.  One of the reasons I come to UCIA meetings is that I feel compatible with the thought forms in the room.

In essence when we come together in a group, we have to be strong to deal with other people’s thought forms.  A community is made up of different thought forms.  You have to be very careful with what you're thinking because it will manifest.  Anything you are imagining about your neighborhood will come true.  If you believe in something strong enough, you can make a difference.

Nancy: I want to laud what Catherine just said.  I am thoroughly amazed at what she said.  According to some theories in physics, we create our own world.  Whatever we are experiencing is because our minds have created it.  Your mind is a filter for processing what is really out in the world.  You're seeing the result of the filtering process.  You see what your mind lets you see.  If my brain is negative, angry, fighting, that influences what I see and my mind will spew out what comforts me.  If fighting and anger and sarcasm are what comforts me for whatever reason, then that is how I'm going to see the world.

Visionary Ideas
Strategies of "the Mind"

Let me speak personally about what just happened here at this meeting..  I lit into a criticism of Bob Haas.  Catherine did something much better.  She said we are all a community of thought forms.  The thought forms create different manifestations.  Catherine also said that she can come to these meetings and leave not feeling stressed.  Why?  Because the way we here at UCIA view the world, all of us different, is more consistent than it is inconsistent.  We have a lot more in common than not in common.

There's a story about a teacher who effected healing in an almost catatonic student simply by saying to himself: "I love you, I love you, I love you."  Doing that, he changed himself – not the student.  His focus was not the other person but the relationship.  Yet one day the student responded to the teacher and a perfectly normal way. 

We have the ability to manifest visionary ideas about Upham's corner.  What are those?  I don't know.  Every week it's something different.  It’s beauty.  It’s cleanliness.  It's art.  Less congestion.  A new vision of this and that.  We want to keep all these wonderful thoughts in our heads and carry them with us.  Walk down the street and see the beautiful ideas implemented.  One day it will come to pass. Period. 

Catherine: As I continued to work with people, we began to realize we both have the same objectives.  Sometimes we are coming about those objectives in different ways.  Once we understand that we are more similar than we are dissimilar, it becomes an AHA moment.

If somebody is coming from a negative thought form, they may not trust me.  It may take a long time for both of us to understand that we have the best interest of both of us in mind.  There can be moments where you have upset other people.  But you have to continue consistently interacting with the people and showing them that you have their best interests in mind.
We are NOT at War How Can I Help?

Shemiram: What you're describing is exactly what we, as a group, are doing.  Whatever steps we take cannot be based on animosity.  Even if the other person feels like we are taking steps against them, we need to continue to show them friendship.

Catherine: What’s also important is that we are not a theoretical group.  We are a group that takes action.

Nancy: Remember this.  Firmness is not negativity.  Firmness is love.  Don't criticize.  Don't argue.  Don't justify.  .

Catherine: When Aaron I made complaints about Vinfen, it upset a lot of people.  However, as result of putting the focus on that organization, the group home has been greatly improved.  There is more to do.  We cannot, cannot be afraid.

Nancy: So that we are non-confrontational, it’s really important we ask the question: How can I help?  .  Don't use the word "war.”

[Everybody]  It’s not a war. 

Catherine: If you do a war on drugs, all you will have use a war. 

Nancy:  Larry Fabian likes to refer to St. Kevin's as Bob's Haasienda.  But he also says we need to have a celebration for Bob.  We need to have a special party that celebrates how much time and effort Bob has put into this neighborhood. What does matter is for us to say: "God bless you, Bob.  I love you Bob.  Thank you, Bob." 

Catherine: Absolutely.

Nancy: You have to love people and appreciate people.  Pay no attention to their weaknesses.  You have to stop them if they are out of control.  But then forget it.  Get on with life.

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