Part 4- What Makes Healthy Neighborhoods healthy?
hoagland masterson NEIGHBORHOOD
Part 4 of a 5-part series where we interview the five neighborhoods that NeighborLink has invited to part of a 2019 comprehensive research project. Our desire is to learn what makes a healthy neighborhood healthy. These five Fort Wayne neighborhoods have been chosen for their unique socio-economics, demographics, geographic influences and levels of neighbor engagement at the association level.
Arline and Jim joined NeighborLink for a raw and insightful conversation about the Hoagland Masterson Neighborhood. We started by asking them how they ended up living in Hoagland Masterson (HM) and in their neighborhood association leadership roles. They opened up about their neighborhood’s dynamics, the burdens and battles the neighborhood has faced for years, and what they think makes HM healthy [at this moment]. Hoagland Masterson has always been a working-class neighborhood with higher levels of poverty, but has a long history of committed homeowners that go several generations deep. Arline describes her neighbors as “resilient,” because of the challenges they face and always seem to weather. (Link to Neighborhood Map)
I’m drawn to Hoagland Masterson like no other neighborhood, other than the one I live in, which is just a block away, south of HM’s border. I believe that HM is the next up and coming neighborhood in Fort Wayne. Right now no one can quite remember where it’s located, except people like Arline, Jim, and the dozens of long-time residents waiting for the attention they deserve from the City of Fort Wayne, developers, and potential neighbors. It is uniquely positioned between an established, stable, and growing neighborhood, the most ethnically diverse commercial corridor, the potential of Electric Works, and downtown’s current crown jewel, Parkview Field, home of the TinCaps. I’ve been trying to buy a building for NeighborLink there for four years and I tell everyone that will listen that HM is where to invest because it’s the neighborhood that is full of long-time residents that deserve to see things progress.
Hoagland Masterson is a community of committed neighbors like Jim and Arline that work tirelessly, know more about their neighborhood and its people than many, and are the resilient fighters that Arline talks about in the podcast. These are neighbors I want to live by, resource, connect others to, and see what happens for the entire south central region of Fort Wayne. The struggle for them is real though. They are marginalized, struggling to get the attention and resources they need to get projects done, and realistically there just isn’t quite enough momentum and energy that other neighborhoods currently have. They have many of the same assets as Williams Woodland, just not the same amount of them, and that matters. It’s not knowledge, vision, intent that’s holding them back, because they are doing great work. It’s mostly capacity. If they had more capacity, what could happen?
I appreciate Arline and Jim’s candor about what’s been a struggle and what justice means in HM. I also appreciate their acknowledgement of recent wins in getting the attention of the City for some infrastructure projects as well as putting pressure on the local electric utility that just built a major substation in their neighborhood without much consideration for the neighborhood. Arline and Jim see promise, yet speculate what could happen as home values increase in their area. They continue to invest their own resources into stabilizing the neighborhood one house at a time.
I think you’ll really enjoy this podcast because it begins to shed some light on the other side of the “healthy” neighborhood reality. It at least helps us begin to see how much things are the same among neighborhoods at the core, yet different on the surface. If you’re looking to start investing in and understanding neighborhood development, come join NL on a project in HM this summer.
We’re looking forward to our next phase of the 2019 research project, which includes a two-hour workshop with neighbors from each of the five neighborhoods: North Highlands, Williams Woodland, West Central, Hoagland Masterson and Petite Rudisill.