Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Video Footage from Habitat Week Closing Ceremonies

Post and videos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director; videos with Jeff Skrenes in them contributed by Habitat staff or volunteers.

With such an extraordinary month, capped off by thousands of volunteers and a visit from  President Carter, Hawthorne still has photos and videos to share from the events of the Habitat week.  Above are several videos from the final day of work.

Former HNC board chair Peter Teachout asked for a statement of his to be read at one of the final events, and I obliged.  Some people have said that the sound quality on that video makes it difficult to hear.  In response, I've posted Peter's speech after the jump.  Peter said...

A Neighborhood
By Officer Candidate Peter Teachout

What makes a neighborhood? Do residents of an average community really know the answer to this question? A student of the Law asked a famous person one time, “who is my neighbor?” That important person responded with a story. This story took place in a certain time and in a certain country a long time before cars and modern technology. Most people walked from place to place. There were no policemen or emergency medical services to respond to life’s emergencies. Without this modern infrastructure, there were thieves and robbers that liked to waylay travelers that had to walk from one city to the next.

On a certain day a man was traveling between towns by himself. He was a merchant on to the next market to sell his wares. On the way he was robbed, beaten and left for dead. While lying there many people passed by him not caring to see what was wrong with him or if he was still alive. One man stopped and saw that the merchant was lying there bleeding. Being rather wealthy himself, he did not want to stop and help. He was worried about getting robbed himself. So he hurried on his way. Other people passed by and had similar excuses. They were scared, they were too busy, or they had small children and could not put them in danger.

Then a few hours later a man came by who had no high class upbringing. He did not have unlimited resources. He had his own family to protect, but he did not have to neglect them in order to help this poor beaten merchant. He came to the victim and checked to see what he could do to help. He was still alive. The man did what he could to bind the wounds and then he helped him unto his pack mule. He brought the merchant into the next town, paid for his room and gave the inn keeper money to care for the merchant so that he could recover in peace.

In many ways this story is a picture of North Minneapolis. For many years North Minneapolis has been that broken and robbed merchant lying on the side of the road. For many years people have said, oh, “I will never live there!”or, “You live where?” Never dreaming that they should use part of the life that was given to them to benefit those around them. But those of us that have gathered here today are different.

We saw something that was wrong with this picture and we have endeavored to fix it. It has taken some of us longer than others to get involved in the endeavor and impact change. I think I lived in the community for about 4-5 years before I got really serious about getting rid of the bad around me and seeking others that had the same goal. I think it was about the hundredth time my wife said, “But this is not normal. We should not have to live like this!” That I finally buckled down and resolved that I would not rest until that corner I lived on at 6th and 31st was safe for my wife and children.

And now this bubble of civil morality is starting to grow. The successes of Hawthorne and other little communities around North Minneapolis is starting to grow like a vine on a brick wall. They have been small and weak at first but soon North Minneapolis will be a network of strength for generations to come.

When you remember the way things used to be. When you are telling the new residents of these newly remodeled and brand new homes who used to do what, where their house is now, remember those that lived here the longest and suffered the most, much more than I or my family has. Get to know them. Show them respect and reach out to them. Remember that those of us that lived here through it all have not just struggled with an opposing force greater than ourselves. But because of that struggle we have accessed a strength far greater than we could have ever imagined. We have learned how to be neighbors.

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