To Be a Good Neighbor

“There has to be an element of trust there, and that doesn’t exist right now.”


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Transcript for To Be a Good Neighbor

A good neighbor is someone who doesn’t prejudge me. And we look out for each other. If I see your mail is in my box by mistake, I’ll knock on your door and give you your mail. If I’m carrying groceries, they will help me open the door and not just stand there and look at me. Things like that. That’s what I mean, good neighbors.

Perfect example: I’m running for the bus, and it just pulls away, and I know they didn’t see me because had they seen me, they would have stopped. And so I’m disgusted, and I’m saying, “Oh, man, I’ve got to wait for another hour, and it’s cold…,” and I’m pushing the basket back, and this woman approaches me, and she asks me if I needed a ride. And I wasn’t sure how to respond to her because I didn’t know who she was. I said, “Who offers a strange woman…” Okay, I’m thinking, “Um, no, I’m okay, I’ll just get the bus.”  “Are you sure? Because I can take you.” I said, well, okay, I think I could take her if I had to beat her up or anything like that. And then I got in with her and she was the sweetest, one of the most sweetest, thoughtful people I’ve met in Valpo. And small world, she teaches at Valparaiso University. How weird was that? She told me about her thing that she’s doing about Gary, and I said, “Well, look, I’m from Gary…” “What!” You know? And it just goes to show how you have to have an element of trust in no matter what you do. And I’m thinking what if I were to have said, “Okay, no, I’m fine, no thank you,” and just waited in the cold for another hour for the bus. This is a good example of what I meant by being a good neighbor and looking out for each other and learning to trust each other. We have to let down our guard a little bit, we can’t always be suspicious of everybody.

Lake and Porter county. Oooh. I don’t think we could be good neighbors. That’s like saying Indianapolis and Northwest Indiana. Golly. No. If Porter County and Lake County could get along, what would that mean for the region, economically—that would be awesome—but there’s so much animosity to be overcome, there are so many old wounds that need to be healed. I hate painting everything in a racial context, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might be that because Lake County was so heavily African American and Latino, and Porter County, for so many years, was almost totally white. That’s the problem. And overcoming that’s going to be hard. Although I know that the suburbs are opening up and they are not as exclusively white as they used to be. There’s still remnants of that lingering and particularly by people in power. And I can’t even say I have much hope for the future because they tend to pass onto their children many of their beliefs. I don’t know but I think if we could realize how much there is to gain if we would combine forces… This little pocket of Northwest Indiana, I mean, Lake County has got the mill and we’ve got a workforce that’s ready to work and Porter has space and agriculture and farms. It’s got the university, a lot that we could share, and if we brought that all together, it would change the whole dynamic of this area. But again that’s dream talk. I don’t think it could happen any time soon because there’s still a lot of suspicion about each other, and we don’t trust each other. Lake County doesn’t trust Porter County and vice versa. To be a good neighbor, there has to be an element of trust there, and that doesn’t exist right now. I don’t know when or if it ever could.