Little Free Library

This appeared on Highland Ave between JFK and West Side and I am thrilled! It’s a Little Free Library – take a book, leave a book, any time, day or night. (Although could someone please give the guestbook back? You were just supposed to write your name in that… it’s the only book not up for grabs.)

Apparently, this tiny library was designed and is currently maintained by a proud member of a local Girl Scout troop, and she won a Bronze medal (? I don’t really understand the inner workings of the Girl Scouts, but it sounds very impressive to me) for her project.

So, yay! And in more yay – I posted about the Library on social media and immediately heard from some people in the neighborhood who are inspired and excited about the idea of making their own Little Libraries! Woo!

So, yeah. Super cool. Thank you, Miss Girl Scout!

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By way of introduction

Hi. I’m Amy. I live on Jersey City’s West Side. I hope that this will be a blog about my neighborhood and the changes it’s going through. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years (JC for 20+), and I love it here.

It sounds like a cliche (and it kind of is) but the West Side is a really special place. While much of the rest of Jersey City has undergone an astonishing amount of gentrification in the time I’ve lived here, the West Side has resisted much of this. We’ve been largely ignored by City Hall and developers. The neighborhood looks largely the same as it did when I moved here, while Downtown JC (for instance) is unrecognizable from what it looked like a decade or more ago.

I like that things move slowly here. It means that I know by first name almost everyone on my block; a slice of small town living in the midst of a big city. But there’s also bad things about it. As an example: house down the street from me had a devastating fire that completely destroyed the entire home and a year and a half later, the abandoned wreckage still stands there – it’s dangerous and sure to collapse at any moment, potentially threatening houses near it and kids looking for a creepy house to hang out in. And yet, it just remains there. Would this be allowed in a neighborhood in a wealthier area? No, of course not.

And so, as much as my personal predilection would be to keep things exactly the way they are, I know that the longer we’re ignored, the longer abandoned, burnt out houses will remain abandoned; the more bus service will be cut; the more the local schools will suffer; the more litter will pile up…. and so on.

So, we need attention. The trick is, we need the right kind of attention. We need the kind of attention that supports the existing community and helps us to slowly grow. We don’t need luxury skyscraper rentals and a Starbucks on every corner.  Navigating the difference between the two kinds of attention, I guess, is always the trick.