"When people say that people in the West Ward aren't into the arts or poetry, I disagree--I think there are a lot of people here who are and more so. The Hundred Thousand Poets for Change is a global day, it's basically a weekend of unity and there are readings that go on all over the world, and the idea is that it's public, it's 'all-welcome,' it's all ages and it's a way of connecting communities with their issues and the arts. It's specific to your community. Here, a lot of us are concerned about violence; a lot of us are concerned about absentee landlords, you know, the inequity, the schools. It can be anything you want it to be."
"So what kind of readings did you have last Sunday?"
"What we called it is 'Words in the Ward,' and it's something we're going to try to do monthly, and basically have something that's *here*, as opposed to--not that we have anything against Downtown; we love Downtown and all of the communities--but I think that there's a sense that you have to go *there* for everything and we want to let it be known that we have things going on *here*."
"What do you think one of the biggest misconceptions is about the West Ward?"
"That's tough, because some of the things that people think about us, some of it's true; you know, we do have a lot of things that we're worried about, but what bothers me the most is when people say, 'They don't care over there,' which is absolutely not true. These are old home--a lot of people have had families that have lived in these neighborhoods for generations; some have left and some have come back, but that idea that people don't care, bothers me. We've had these meetings every so many weeks where we get together as neighbors and they're packed: fifty, sixty people are showing up to these things, so to me that doesn't say that the community is just sitting back and letting things go."
"What do you see in the future for the West ward?"
"I think that many more are speaking up, but I think we've also focused on some of the little battles: the crossing guards, overcrowded buses--that was something that was a big fight for me--the taking away of the garbage cans. Trying to get some of the landlords that own some of the properties to fix things. We've been trying to get answers about those things and I think we're doing pretty well. We can't just look to the police and say, 'Fix this.' I think there's a sense that *we* have to do things, whether it's through block watch or as neighbors getting together."