Name: Jeff Tischer
Neighborhood Group: SoWe
Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because:
I hesitate to use the word “leader.” I’m not. I’m just a person who saw an opportunity to help and contribute my skills. I think it’s a good example of doing what you can and playing to your strengths. But I’m glad to be a part of SoWe and I’m thrilled to see the impact SoWe is making in the community.
Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now:
I think resident apathy is the biggest concern. We are getting a lot of recognition from City Hall and non-profit organizations around the city. But SoWe residents are still not connecting as fast as I would like. When we have programs like free porch lights and there are struggles to find participants, that is an issue. Now that we have so many resources behind us, we need to do a better job connecting with the people we are working for.
The other big challenge is perception of how the neighborhood is changing. As I said, we’re attracting outside attention, but not all of it is the type we are looking for. I think the goal of SoWe is to make the neighborhood better for those who are already here, not to fix things up so that investors can come in and then price people out of their homes. I am worried that investors will look at our work as an indicator that they can swoop in. And there are already indicators that this is starting to happen. That concerns me quite a bit. I don’t want the character of this neighborhood to change.
What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:
Meeting all the wonderful people living in my neighborhood. I’ve lived here for 11 years, but before SoWe I was pretty insular. Getting to know those around me – and count them as friends – has been so great on so many levels.
Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?
I think the entire SoWe initiative is a great example of the neighborhood working together. We saw a need due to systemic neglect and together we are making an impact on this entire neighborhood. We pulled residents and community partners together and built upon their individual strengths to make change. And we are succeeding.
I think a tangible example of that would be the Block Party. Seeing all of these people come together to share and celebrate made for a great day. I’m excited to see that grow over the next few years.
What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?
Forcing myself to be more outgoing – which believe it or not is against my nature. I like to take cues from people like Emerson Sampaio who are just so warm and gregarious.
Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:
That really depends on the mood. Sometimes it’s sitting around a table kibitzing over a glass of beer, sometimes it’s my girlfriend and I taking our dog to the Buchanan Park dog park.