This morning, driving to work, I listened to a local NPR show. The editor of the Stranger discussed an incident with his neighbor. The neighbor had a psychotic episode and jumped to her death. He did not know her name. During the mayhem, he realized he did not know his neighbors. I realized that while I knew some of my neighbors, I did not know many. As I drove down the road, I made a pact to get to know them.
Lately we have heard much about the kinds of neighbors some people want and do not want. Amid the anxiety and tension is an underlying fear that new and different neighbors means disaster. As a community, we work together to make Bellingham a desirable place to live and work. If we intentionally create a more inclusive and supportive community, our city becomes stronger. Inclusion strengthens our bonds to each other decreasing feelings of exclusion, dejection and desperation. It buttresses our commitment to grow Bellingham for all its citizens.
It can be easy to cast out people with no voices. It can be easy to say, "I have no problem helping people, but why in my neighborhood?" I think it must begin in our community, our neighborhood and our backyard. Bellingham is a supportive and wonderful place to live. Let us ensure this support for all its citizens. Let us be good neighbors because when we include all people we can do anything.