DEAR HARRIETTE: I have lived in my neighborhood for about 25 years, and it has changed so much that I hardly recognize it. As all kinds of people move in and it becomes "gentrified," I am noticing that people are not as friendly as they used to be. The haves and have-nots are more noticeable. As much as I hate it, I see that racial tension is building as well. This makes me really sad.
I know that change is part of life, but I hate that I’m thinking of moving because of what’s happening to my neighborhood. I have seen newcomers look down at people who have been here for generations. This summer was the worst. New neighbors called the police a few times because folks were sitting outside talking and laughing at night on the weekend. It’s like they want the traditions to end so that they can be comfortable. I don’t appreciate that. What can I do to help keep the spirit alive instead of giving up? -- There Goes the Neighborhood, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD: This is where community activism and engagement come in. Join your local community board to help organize around positive action. If there is a block association where you live, join that. Become active in the neighborhood church. And be proactive with your new neighbors. Meet them, welcome them and educate them about the history of your neighborhood. Talk to them about the culture of the people who live where they have moved. Gently point out that they didn’t just buy a house or an apartment, they are buying into a community that has lived there for generations and that has a soul. Encourage them to learn about that soul and find ways to respect it.