Just like the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry of the 90’s, Long Beach has its own little east/west war. Generally speaking, some East Enders I’ve heard from feel that their part of town is ignored by City Hall, while the West End gets all the milk, cookies and toys they want. In some ways, they are right; for such a small area of Long Beach, the West End does get a lot of attention, but there’s a reason for that.
It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, right?
Sure, you can say that, but the folks in the West End work hard to achieve that ‘grease.’ They organize, mobilize, communicate and vocalize (see WENCA & WEBA). They don’t just stand on a soapbox bitching and complaining, “this town sucks.” They make the effort to things done.
Not to get into any details, but I was at a West End Beautification Association (WEBA) meeting last night and witnessed this enthusiasm firsthand. Various topics were discussed – all involving ways to make the West End a safer, cleaner and more pleasant place to live and visit. I sat there quietly observing.. thinking of all the issues we have in the East End, wondering if a similar meeting would ever take place over there as well.
Any grease left over for us squeaky East Enders?
Several years ago there was talk of an East End Neighbors Association. I was asked to be involved. I wasn’t sure what my role was, besides blogging about it. The founder had a website, a logo, t-shirts (store still online) and an article in the LB Herald. I was somewhat ready for the ride, but then the association dissolved overnight. Not to get into details, but the founder decided to leave Long Beach.
Life in the East End went on. I haven’t heard of any new development for a new East End Neighbors. What the heck is the East End anyways? East of Long Beach Blvd, right? What about central Long Beach, the West Holme section? Or the Canals? Walks? North Park? Are the Presidents considered East End? They are east of me, so can I call them The East East End? Should I wait to do anything until an East End Organization gets sorted out?
So what’s my point? Well, I often find myself using this blog as a soapbox where I complain about many things: dog poop on my lawn, garbage, cars going through stop signs, bad food restaurants, ugly stuff being built, etc. I blog to create some conversation, but I never really do anything about it in real life. After the WEBA meeting I realized how I should break out of my shy shell and actually use my voice. Like, actually say something; make phone calls; speak up when I don’t like something or when I want something done. Sure, us folks in the Non-West End aren’t as organized as those in the West, but we can still get things done if we squeak loud enough.
Of course the city gave us Long Beach Listens, which is a perfect chance for all to make our voices heard. North Park residents certainly made sure of that a few weeks ago, and there are still a few more of these meetings left:
Back in March, guest writer Mary Ellen of WEBA wrote about the Broken Windows Theory in her article Death of a Hero. Mary Ellen explains the theory as the following:
“a broken window, left unrepaired shows that no one cares so when the next person breaks the next window it seems a bit less terrible because the level of neglect has already been established. It becomes easier and easier to continue into criminality and blight because each successive transgression, while seemingly harmless in and off itself becomes a growing pattern of neglect for which no one feels responsible but for which everyone is responsible. The theory asserts that the solution lies in being intolerant of the “smallest illegalities” If arresting a single drunk on West Beech Street, fining a dog walker who doesn’t scoop the poop or every store owner who ignores sanitation codes seems harsh, failure to do anything about the mounting number of people who continue to flaunt the laws can destroy an entire community.
Quite frankly, Taking care of your community is contagious. When I go home later I’m going to pick up all the garbage around my house. I will do the same tomorrow and the day after that. Hopefully my neighbors will watch me, do the same and it will spread like a virus.