If you ask Eastside neighbors where the boundaries of their neighborhood, they might not be able to tell you exactly.
But according to Pat Taylor, Director of the Kalamazoo Eastside Neighborhood Association, even if you live in neighboring Burke Acres or Eastwood and feel like an Eastsider, the Eastside Network Coalition (ENet), a group of residents, nonprofit and church leaders, business owners and government representatives, would be happy to have your participation.
First of all, the Eastside neighborhood shares parks, both Sherwood and Rockwood, with its sister neighborhoods and living on the Eastside isn’t all about boundaries. Some of it’s just about living East of the city and also sharing roots and a vibe.
“A city official once said to me, ‘the Eastside boundaries are whatever the residents deem them to be,’” says Pat Taylor, KENA Director, laughing. “And we’re very flexible about that, too.”
Founded in 2011, ENet works together to host events and engage with residents to make the Eastside “a great place to live and work and play,” according to the ENet mission. Over the years, ENet has evolved from an organization run by Habitat for Humanity into a grassroots group that encourages neighbors to be both part of the planning and the implementing of projects undertaken to improve the quality of life for Eastside residents.
A recent project included the renovation of Rockwell Park, which ENet is hoping to use for the planning of neighborhood gatherings this spring. If the park is used frequently, the Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation Department hopes to host summer camps there in 2019, says Taylor.
Participating organizations include Open Roads, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Kalamazoo County Land Bank, the city, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and many others.
“Speaking on behalf of all the organizations in ENet, we want the feedback and we want to know we are helping residents achieve the vision they have for the Eastside, but we can’t do it without their input, and their help, if possible,” says Taylor, who encourages residents to attend a meeting and take an active part in their neighborhood.
ENet meets on the third Thursday of each month at St. Mary’s Catholic Church from 12:30 to 2 p.m., residents welcome. In addition, ENet is inviting residents and seeking input at its annual resident meeting, which will take place at 6 p.m., Jan. 31
at KENA, 1301 East Main.
For more information, please see the KENA website here.