by Christopher Scott
Parkside is home and we each have personal reasons for why we consider it home. Some of us were born here…it is home. Others of us have moved here…it is home. Still others of us may not live here but we work here or we worship here or we play here… and so it is home.
These are just a sampling of the personal accounts that have galvanized a group of 14 community leaders over the last several months to create the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CDC) to benefit all those that, for whatever reason, call Parkside home. I’ve been elected as President of the CDC and I’m honored and humbled to serve one of the truly special neighborhoods this city has to offer.
I must confess I didn’t always call Parkside home. My Grandfather, Bismark (“Bizzy”) Trotter, moved to this neighborhood in 1949 and he stayed here until his death almost 50 years later. I, however, was raised primarily in suburban North Carolina and that was my home.
But when I visited my Grandfather as a child, I always found myself fascinated by the neighborhood’s rhythms. Trips to Parkside meant seeing kids playing double-dutch in the street; that was one of the coolest things this suburban southern kid had ever seen. There was a palpable energy and vibrancy to the neighborhood, but I would not say I considered it home at that point.
Later in life, as a sophomore at the University of Virginia, I left college abruptly with no plan but to drive as long and as far away from college as possible; I wanted to drop out of college. I drove North, 7 hours later ultimately ending up at my Grandfather’s Parkside home, unannounced.
My Grandfather and I spent a joyful couple of days together, by the end of which he somehow convinced me to return to college.
In the bleakest moment in my life to that point, I was drawn to this place for no other reason but to find solace; that is when Parkside became my home.
But Parkside also felt very different during that trip; the kids weren’t playing double-dutch like I had recalled in my childhood visits; the ethos of the neighborhood I had remembered had seemingly vanished.
Then, upon returning to college, just 3 weeks after that impromptu trip to Philadelphia, my Grandfather died, suddenly and unexpectedly. And in his death was the most powerful lesson I’ve experienced in my life. That lesson goes as follows: when you feel moved to act (as I felt moved to leave college bound for Parkside) you must act, even if you don’t know the reasons why.
I found out my “why”, as I was fated to be the last person in my immediate family to see my Grandfather alive. And that is a gift I will treasure forever.
This neighborhood has transformed me; it has been there for me in my transformation. Through this CDC we will all be stewards of transforming this neighborhood back to the healthy, vibrant and diverse neighborhood that is its founding ethos.
As of the September 2015 publication of this article, Parkside has a formal CDC.
We call it the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation…And WE ARE READY!