Sunday, June 14, 2009

Home Tour!

Last year about this time, Matt and I were still in Boston milking the last few months of steady income before becoming a grad student and a freelancer, respectively, so we missed Cleveland-Holloway's first annual home tour. Our house was newly under contract at the time, and my parents made time to come out and meet neighbors and curious strangers and to take photos. It looked like such a good time, and we were especially eager to be here for this year's tour, organized by the neighborhood and our lovely realtor Ken. Hell if I was going to let a little thing like a canceled flight prevent me from being here - I took matters into my own hands, rented a car, and arrived at 4am the morning of, in time to sleep for a few hours and help Matt clean the house for our guests.

It sure is nice to have some incentive...

The tour turned out great. A lot of neighbors who hadn't seen the house in a while came through, and we gave tour after tour to Durham residents, many of whom are various degrees of interested in buying in Cleveland-Holloway. Despite the real-estate-driven nature of home tours, it felt important to be involved, as it gave us a chance to express to potential new neighbors both the realities of the neighborhood, and also what we're looking for in terms of priorities (i.e. people who are going to be invested in the health of the hood, its current and future residents of all economic statuses). It also gave us a chance to chat with some realtors face to face, and express our concerns about inflating home prices too quickly.

In the brief time I took to peek into a few other houses, I was struck with how little displacement is going on at this point - actually, none that I can think of. There are still so, so many abandoned/abused houses to be reclaimed before that starts to become an issue. Even ones that weren't featured on the tour - a sign that, if people are really committed to living here, they should look past the MLS listings and be willing to contact delinquent owners directly.

The best part of the day was the after-tour party, held at neighbors' Leslie and Maria's house on Ottawa. Triangle Brewing Company donated two kegs, and lots of folks brought snacks and drinks. Lisa got her hands on India's hair, and then mine, braiding it so tight our eyes watered.

I really love my neighborhood. I know it's changing in complex ways, and that this will bring good and bad repercussions. We can't stop this. The only thing we can do is make sure the way is paved for as many of the positive ones to happen as possible.

Freddie and Heather, a great couple we met a few months ago during their house-shopping process, wrote up a nice review of the tour at their blog, Bull City Bungalow. And we met a fantastic family - Steven, Kenya, and Azalea Easley - who have just started their own blog, All Things Easley Done, (how cute is that!) in which they mention meeting us on the tour. I'm hoping to slooowly, subtly... publicly... entice them to move to our neighborhood!