Story of the 118th Avenue NET Team

The Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) has been in the 118th Avenue area for the past six years. It has been a great privilege to work with such an invested, compassionate and strong community. The story of the 118th Avenue NET has been a rich one, with many interesting and exciting turns. We never knew where the story might lead but were so invested in the journey that it didn’t matter where we were going as long as we were headed there in partnership with the community.

118th Avenue has come a long way since the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Revitalization Project began. The community is safer now than it was six years ago with fewer crime incidents reported. The businesses make up a rich tapestry of diverse services and products. There are so many great -and we mean GREAT- places to eat. The arts are flourishing with incredible, mind-blowing festivals each year. As well, the citizens who live in the area continue to show how much they care and appreciate the community, their neighbours, and the city as a whole.

Throughout this story NET has contributed to the narrative of the revitalization. From the “We Believe in 118” initiative, to “Eyes on the Alley,” to the spoke, and the “Dear ‘John’” campaign, NET has worked collaboratively with some very passionate and interesting characters. The success of our programs is due to the dedication and vision of the dynamic protagonists who live, work and play in the area. Without their vision for a safe, vibrant neighbourhood, we would not have gotten so far. The antagonists within the plot, although frustrating at times, ultimately made the story far more interesting and rewarding for all involved.

Eyes on the Alley

Like any story, ours is coming to an end. NET placements are never intended to be permanent and we feel privileged to have had six years in this community. We hope that the community will be left with the impression that change is possible when we work together. We hope the community has come to understand that safer, stronger neighbourhoods are an outcome of inclusive, fair and welcoming places and that if we look out for one another, care for our environment, and act as committed citizens of this great city then we can achieve our goals. We believe that as we leave 118th Avenue our experiences can best be summed up by the following quote:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

― Howard Zinn

NET is but a chapter in the book of 118th Avenue. It is with anticipation that we, and the rest of the City, watch as more chapters continues to be written with the compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness of those who live, work and play in the area. Thank you for welcoming us into your story.

Farewell friends, 118th Avenue NET

 

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About the Author
Alec Stratford
Alec Stratford is a social worker with the City of Edmonton and a member of a specialized Neighbourhood Empowerment Team working in the 118th Ave area. Alec and his partners Constable Kurtis Hauptman and Cassie Smith work with the community to identify and implement ways to reduce and prevent crime and the fear of crime.
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