Oral History Item Type Metadata
MEMORIES OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD
START OF TRANSCRIPT SEGMENT: 04:47
Delores Bailey: The thing I remember about growing up though was the neighborhood and the people. We all knew who everybody was when we moved there in 1975 because we got to meet everybody. We grew up in Barbee’s Chapel, which is across from Meadowmont now, on Barbee’s Chapel Road, but we always interchanged with people in Chapel Hill so we knew everybody. What I miss are the people. In my head, I can go down the street house by house and tell you who used to live there. And so that’s kind of sad that the people are not there anymore. But I definitely remember one tradition of the street. When someone died, there would be a street captain and she would go up and down the houses and collect money for the family members. I thought that was so neat. And that was before the street really, really changed and the people that were living on it. But there were never any questions. She "the street captain", whenever we found out anybody had died, would walk up and down the street and collect for whatever family and then give the money to them from the neighbors. And that was so neat.
DB: There used to be a woman that lived beside us, Miss Bessie Farrington and she used to have community dinners. So once a year in the spring, she’d invite everybody to come to her backyard and she’d do barbeque and things like that. And it’s sad because if you go back there now, the Fenwick property, which butts Rosemary, and is at the corner of Rosemary and Graham. In the house that she now rents out to people, they’ve drawn a line actually where the property line is and so where the property line is now is right up against their house. She would have never been able to do now what she did back then. But we used to look forward to that every spring when she’d open up her backyard and we’d have a barbeque there, and that was fun.
SEGMENT ENDS: 06:31
SEGMENT BEGINS: 18:20
DB: So I can look back now and not take it personally, but I think that always community opinion is important. And I think that our community has been hurting for a while and people have been holding their tongue for a long time. But I do think a lot of important things were said. And I think some follow up needs to be done to that. But people need to know where our power lies, and what we can do and what we can’t do. And what we can push for and what we can’t push for. And I don’t mean that in a limited way, I mean here are some rules and regulations, if it’s a zoning condition we can’t change. For a long time when I first started with Empowerment we used to fight the tax issue. Like, these older people can’t afford these taxes and this is crazy. Until we got it into our heads that it’s not local; that the tax is a state issue, so the state has to change the way they do taxes. But at the St. Paul’s meeting what I heard was a lot of frustration, what I heard was a lot of fear, and what I would love is for those people to keep using their voice. And use the anger and the fear in a positive way so we can get a positive result. And one thing that I have learned from being a community organizer is that if you can channel it the right way, it’s good. Even if it’s ugly, even if it hurts when it comes out, if you do something positive with it then you can make a good change.
Joey Parker: Words of wisdom. I was thinking about this at that meeting and in preparation for talking with you, what’s it been like, having to communicate and deal with all these different groups of people like the Northside community, Empowerment, and then the developers, and maybe even students in there too. What's it like?
DB: It’s not as hard as you would think because I believe we all need to be at the table. And I will work with each and every group because even when we were creating the Conservation District, there were developers at the table, there were renters at the table, there were homeowners at the table, there were town people at the table. And somebody said you don’t want the developers here. No, you want to hear everybody’s opinion because you cannot address everybody’s concerns, even if you decide the developers' ideas are wrong. But you heard them and you listened and you let them have their say. Because you really can’t have a balanced community without everybody’s input, whether you like it or not. So I always like that rule of meetings that everybody gets to say what they want to say; you can’t criticize what somebody has said or you can’t put them down because of it. And the other side of that is, if you don’t know what your enemy is saying, then you don’t either know how to work against them or defend yourself against them, or combat whatever they’re doing. So it’s foolish.
DB: So the thing I expect though is for people to come to the table in honesty. And if you’re not going to be honest with me, then you don’t need to be at the table. I don’t care whether you’re a resident, or a student, or a developer, because I’m going to come honestly. I might not get it right all the time. I’m not talking about compromise, I’m talking about listening to one another. I’m talking about if you’re serious about moving forward, then everybody needs to have a say in it. So it would be wrong of me not to try to talk to the developers, it would be wrong not to consider the student population, it would be wrong not to consider those folk who no longer live in Northside but care a lot about Northside. And so I think that this is a turning point for us, this is an opportunity for us to figure out ways to work with each other and move it forward. But if we stop and we say I’m not going to listen to any fraction of everybody who's involved-- you can’t deny the developers in this community. They own it now. They do. The next question is how do we get them on board with what we’re trying to do, which is community preservation. And that doesn’t mean, you don’t have to look like me necessarily to live beside me, but I certainly expect for you to respect me, and I will do the same in our neighborhood. And that’s no matter what you look like, no matter how old you are, and whether you own the property or not. You can’t do that without buy-in from everybody. So it’s hard because I’ll always want that. I’ll always want everybody at the table. It’s not going to happen and I know that. That’s what I’ve learned, that it is difficult to juggle it. But in my head, my thought process is ‘I need to hear from everybody’ or ‘I’ll try to hear from everybody’. Now that’s the hardest part, trying to get everybody to the table.
SEGEMENT ENDS: 23:08