Over the past three decades, Ace has invited the incoming Mayor and Council, and the outgoing Mayor to contribute an essay to our “What Lexington Needs” space that began as an Ace tradition in the 80s.
What Lexington Needs: Community
by 11th District Council Member Jennifer Reynolds
Lexington is a wonderful place to live with many amenities, large enough to satisfy without being intimidating. The crime is low compared to similar cities, and we have many good options for food and entertainment. Lexington is growing with diverse neighborhoods and large projects to improve our city. There are many things our city needs in terms of sidewalks, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and safety, and more, yet there is one overarching need that stands out to me.
We need community! The city has fostered community over the years with festivals and activities that bring us together, but until neighbors know each other, more people are included in neighborhood associations, and we reach out to everyone, get all involved in neighborhood activities, and collaborate for the common good, the crime and nuisances that exist in our neighborhoods will remain. Until we start working with one another no matter the race, socio-economic level, sexual orientation, religion, or political belief, we will not accomplish all that we want in our city. City government can only do so much to support and help Lexington neighborhoods. We can do a lot, but some things are outside our scope of power. Our thriving neighborhoods are those that come together for a common goal. They rely on each other to meet their needs and to get that stop sign put in, that festival to happen, those speed bumps installed, and to clean up their streets.
The strength of a city is in community. Fearing our neighbors or lack of organizing and working together have become our largest barriers to progress. Some of Lexington’s neighborhoods are thriving and finding ways to work together and have the types of communities that we all desire; others are in the process of reinventing themselves and striving to move forward and encourage healthy community, business, and growth. Yet, we still have a long way to go to strengthen community in all our neighborhoods.
A major role of government is to educate the public on the resources available to our residents and to be more transparent about how it functions and the public’s role within government. We can empower our residents to work with their neighbors and be catalysts for the change they desire. Those of us in local government need to include cross sections of all residents on our commissions, boards, as employees and elected officials, so that the diversity of our city is represented and has a say in every decision we make.
To improve our streets, infrastructure, parks, businesses, neighborhoods, and the city as a whole, we must work together with a sense of community. We must organize formally and informally and include all of our neighbors in our conversations. United we stand, divided we fall!
Jennifer Reynolds was elected to Lexington’s 11th District’s Urban County Council in November 2018. She was the outreach director with Bluegrass Youth Ballet after starting a bilingual outreach program in the 11th District’s Valley Park in 2013.
The 11th district is sandwiched between downtown, Keeneland, the airport, and the University of Kentucky.
Four elementary schools and one high school are located within the 11th district. There are eight parks, six of which touch the Wolf Run Watershed.
About ‘What Lexington Needs’
Thirty years ago, Ace began including a regular feature from our readers titled, “What Lexington Needs.” A diverse array of local leaders — from artists and architects, to bankers and business owners, and elected officials of every stripe and party — participated over the decades.
In honor of our 30th anniversary, we’ve re-opened the forum. Anyone can contribute. Essays are typically 500 words or less, and the most important criteria is that the writer be passionate about what they believe Lexington needs.
Do you have ideas about What Lexington Needs? Share them with the city. Email 500 words or less to acelist at aceweekly dot com. Include a photo and a sentence or two about yourself.
This essay will also appear in a February 2019 print edition of Ace.
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