By Ann Pineda
The people I know here are happy with the Fairpark's presence and influence on the area. Some of us bought our homes here because of it. Many of us helped support the fight to keep the State Fair here, valuing it as part of our local heritage and for the unique character it gives to the neighborhood.
Many of my neighbors like to participate in this identity. Some prepare their own entries for fair exhibits and some work directly for the fair. Others happily anticipate the festive atmosphere that arrives in our streets along with the people looking for a place to park.
It has become a tradition among many families here to allow their kids to set up chairs by their driveways and wave parking signs in order to earn a few extra dollars to spend at the fair. This is an accommodation that helps many Fairpark neighbors welcome the periodic influx of strangers and extra traffic. It also creates an outdoor, family presence that complements the Fairpark's traffic management.
We used to see many more accidents and other street problems before they started adding the parking barricades that increased visibility and reduced blind spots – and confusion – where pedestrian and vehicle traffic is heaviest.
I want to say this very clearly: the Fairpark has been a really good neighbor. They have considered us in their planning. They have been responsive when alerted to problems. Neighbors I've spoken with share my view that event parking has not been much of a problem, so we were surprised by fliers left in our fences suggesting otherwise.
A few residents have expressed anger to the city about neighborhood event parking, especially during the State Fair. As I understand it, their problems seem specific to their narrow street and are made worse by the car-parking practices of one of their neighbors. A solution for their problems may not have anything to do with the neighborhood as a whole.
For my part, I don't want to see the city adopt a one-size-fits-all policy that ruins the happy, block-party atmosphere that has evolved organically across the whole area.
I love being part of this unique Fairpark neighborhood that is also a diverse neighborhood. Our neighbors have differing ways because we all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Tolerance and acceptance are normal for us here.
Years ago, not long after I had moved here, a next door neighbor endeared herself to me when she came to me directly about a careless joke I had made, a misreading of our cultural difference. She didn't characterize my mistake – or me – in a negative light. She merely indicated her limits, those that she needed me to recognize. I understood that she accepted me enough to want to fix a problem that could grow between us. I apologized, of course, in confusion but also in awe: no drama and no other people were involved!
This was my introduction to the strength of this neighborhood. Small acts of everyday acceptance. Neighbors liking each other without needing to be like each other.
We can do better than add to the rage all around us these days. I place a high value on my neighborhood for continually teaching me to recognize a wide range of perspectives. Perspectives which, in turn, allow me to see some of my own assumptions. It is not a small thing to be saved from thinking I know it all.
Ann Pineda is an artist who has lived in and cared about the Fairpark neighborhood for 15 years.