I knew from what I’d heard about the first two comprehensive plan meetings that I should expect some really good discussion when I showed up at the Rieth Center for the People, Neighborhoods and Housing meeting last month. The building was already full when I arrived. There were a lot of people who I knew, but probably just as many that I didn’t know. These were all people who are very interested in how we shape our city in the near-term and the long-term.
As the discussion began — centering on topics specific to Goshen and concerned with humane housing, neighborhood vitality and the ways different groups of people relate to each other — fairly standard ideas floated out: We need more neighborhood organizing, better code enforcement, more opportunity to talk to each other. Nothing terribly unusual about these insights, true as they may be.
But those ideas were just the ice breaker. As though all of us gathered were testing to see what points of commonality we had on these topics. And pretty quickly it became clear that, though we represented a certain cross-section of Goshen (by no means a complete cross section), we all agreed that we want more than just the usual proposals for how to address these topics.
As we warmed to our task, and the juices got flowing, and we felt more and more comfortable with each other, the conversation moved from merely good to intriguing. We were talking about why rental housing has to feel like a second-class option. We were talking about what it would take to revitalize some of the large, 19th century houses in the off-downtown neighborhoods. We were talking about corner groceries on our blocks, to help us get to know each other. We were talking about the way that gardens and streetscaping can help us get over walls of language and culture.