Beloved Community: Celebrating a year of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative

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After joining the Jackson Center, I have learned more and more about the beloved community that is Northside. I have met and learned so much from the neighbors around me who have called Chapel Hill home for the better part of this century and beyond. This deep-rooted community was the focal point of the inaugural NNI Celebrating Our Neighbors event at Hargraves Community Center in the heart of Northside.

Both the youngest and oldest Northside neighbors were in attendance for this historic event (4 months and 95 years old)! Neighbors received ribbons indicating how long they or their family has lived in Northside. Many wonderful community organizations shared their work in the community through interactive showcases – including housing repair, youth education, and affordable housing. Attendees were invited to sign a stud for the newest Habitat for Humanity home under construction in Northside. Neighbors of all ages chatted with one another and other attendees, while eating delicious biscuits and cookies from Mama Dips.

Pretty soon the floor was filled with community members and older residents took seats by the main stage. The Praise Team choir from St. Joseph’s CME took to the stage, leading the audience in several beautiful gospel pieces. An impressive array of speakers shared their love and appreciation for the Northside community, Mr. Matthew Farrington, Senator Valerie Foushee, Ms. Susan Levy, Mr. Cameron Foushee, Mrs. Marian Cheek Jackson, and Revered Mark Royster. Afterwards, the Praise Team lead the attendees in song as the community filed out of Hargraves and marched, in song, to the site of the new Habitat House, where community leaders helped raise the home’s first wall.

This inaugural event beautifully captured the spirit of the Northside Neighborhood – lively! Inter-generational, delicious food, great conversations, and an overwhelming sense of beloved community.

– Alissa Ellis, Deputy Director

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