Connecting with Columbia, caring about community

The task of building community is not one that many people take on. As our cities expand, it gets easier to live secluded lives. Even the architecture trends show it: We’ve gone from the front-porch socializing of the not-too-distant past to hiding out indoors or on the less-inviting back porch. But there are still those who think building community is important and are purposeful about such a task.

Kip Kendrick not only chairs his neighborhood association, but he also invites his Benton-Stephens neighbors into his home and into one another’s lives through monthly coffee gatherings and a community garden. Through a community mentoring program, students at West Boulevard Elementary made greeting cards for people at Truman Veterans Hospital and delivered them on Valentine’s Day. When Parkade Elementary School held grandparents day, members of Parkade Baptist Church volunteered their time for those children who had no grandparents. Columbia is a town that cares about community.

At the Missourian, we want that message to become a mantra — so every day, the Neighborhood News blog has a different story to share with the Columbia community. Whether it’s the story of an octogenarian who has a house full of frog-themed collectibles or profiles on the new principals of Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools, our goal is simple: helping you get to know your community. Thank you for inviting us to become a part of it.

In celebration of our 300th blog post, some of the reporters at Neighborhood News also wanted to express their gratitude:

Jordin Ruthstein, College Park/West Boulevard

Through this experience, I have come to understand Columbia as much more than just a college town. During my time at MU, I will admit that I thought of the town as stretching from the university to downtown and nothing more than that. Writing for Neighborhood News has taught me that there is way more to Columbia than that.

It has been a wonderful experience working on the neighborhoods beat. As much as I loved Columbia before, I have a newfound appreciation for the town and the people in it. It has made me even more proud to be a Tiger. The accomplishments of Columbia are amazing, and the community members should be proud.

The people who we neighborhood reporters have met are very gracious and helpful. They made the experience of working at the Missourian even more rewarding, and I want to thank them for working with us. It has truly made my first experience as a reporter amazing.

Simin Wang, Parkade

I always loved writing about people and events and exploring new places. As an exchange student from Singapore, this gift was even more precious to me because I was able to get to know more about a neighborhood in a country so different from mine. I was told that Parkade tends to revolve around the school, which I grew to love. The children are adorable; they always ask me to take more photos of them, and they would run up and hug me. They never fail to make me feel loved. The teachers and parents are very helpful, too. They all made reporting more fun and easy.

I love Parkade — it will be a place I miss when I leave MU. In my last few days here, I plan to take a walk in the neighborhood and take as many pictures as I can so that I can keep the memories of Parkade safe with me.

Aimee Hall, Douglass Park

When I actually stepped foot into Douglass Park, meeting the people and walking down the broken sidewalks, I realized that all the negative things I’d heard about the neighborhood weren’t true.

The first thing I noticed was how inspiring and exciting the people are who live in Douglass.

On my first day of exploring, I ran into Kortni McFarlin. Within minutes of meeting her, she poured out her heart to me about her family and the neighborhood. Knowing I was new to Douglass and that I didn’t know my way around yet, she did not hesitate to fill me in on every business, restaurant and car wash in Douglass. I knew from that moment that I wouldn’t be happy covering any other part of Columbia. I knew I was going to love writing for this neighborhood.

Since then, I’ve met some incredible people and seen the beauty in Douglass that is so often underappreciated by the rest of the city. I realized that I’ve had assumptions about people who might not look the way I do or come from a similar background. Writing for Douglass showed me how wrong those assumptions are.

Thank you, residents of Douglass Park, for allowing me to be a part of your community!

Erin Hendry, Bearfield/Grindstone

Although I have lived in Columbia for three school years, I never really gave much thought to many of the events and concerns that were happening in neighborhoods outside of MU. As a new reporter, I was really nervous about attempting to meet complete strangers, but it amazed me how welcoming and nice everyone was. With each person I met came a new story, a look into their lives and how they contribute to their neighborhoods.

One of the first groups of people I met were participants of the Neighborhood Leadership Program, who all shared the common desire to improve their communities and make them stronger. It was very eye-opening to hear the concerns that each person had within their own neighborhoods, and it really made me aware of what they wanted their communities to be.

As this experience comes to a close, I have a completely new and different perspective of the Columbia community. I have become more outgoing and aware of my surroundings outside the school bubble, and it wouldn’t have been possible without meeting so many great people throughout the city of Columbia.

If you’re enjoying the Neighborhood News blog, please consider subscribing to our e-mail newsletters. You can get the news from the neighborhoods you’re interested in, once a month, in an easy-to-digest format that comes right to your e-mail inbox. With every new subscriber, we’re able to grow and better serve the Columbia community. As of the first week of April, the newsletters had more than 1,000 active subscriptions, and dozens more people have signed up since then. These graphics are a snapshot of our growth:

Thank you, Columbia!


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