Dear Selkirk Avenue
I love the way our older relatives get a twinkle in their eye when they speak of your glory days. I love that you’re the place where I met so many amazing youth leaders, young people who are tough, connected to their past and motivated to create a brighter tomorrow. I’ve gotten some delicious food from Gunn’s Bakery, have eaten many delicious meals at Lao Thai, Chowdown and of course The Windmill. When I look up and down your recently developed sidewalks, when I walk past the recently added murals, when the Bear Clan Patrol or bell tower family come together, I feel hopeful about our future.
However, we can’t ignore what’s happening. Established and well loved North End businesses like the Windmill are closing down after 43 years and they’re not the only ones! In terms of quality or healthy food access on our beloved Selkirk Avenue, we are sorely lacking. There was a time where people could get beautiful ribs on Selkirk Ave. There was a time where people could visit the city Hall of the North End (The Windmill) to meet friends, family and talk about the future. What will replace these beloved restaurants? Places that sell cheap pizza and chicken are not the solution. Many people wonder about the negative activity these places represent and attract. Some have gone so far as to say these small businesses act as a cover for the shadow economy (crime and drug dealing).
More cheap pizza is not the answer. But in order for us to find something better we have to bring our community into the creation of our solution. Is it a community owned and operated restaurant we need? Is it a different type of store? One that provides local employment and supports other north end businesses? Are we gonna set a standard in our community to say we no longer accept the cheap pizza, pharmacies and shady walk in clinics as what we and our families deserve? Our decision makers, leaders, and yes the business owners of these pizza places need to know this is no longer acceptable. Selkirk Avenue, and all of us, deserve better.