The first Thursday of each month has the residents of North Encanto gathering at a neighbors' house. For over twenty years, this diverse, fun, quirky group has advocated for their neighborhood while socializing surrounded by home cooked, international gourmet cuisine. It was started over twenty years ago by two neighborhood women going to lunch. One of their daughters is still in the group. Along with the leftovers, we leave with eggs laid by the hosts' chickens and even a bottle or two of goat milk. (The city permits residents to have two goats in our neighborhood.) What goes on in between bites is the meat of the meeting. A late arriving neighbor was actually cheered when he entered. When was the last time your neighbors cheered for you?
North Encanto is in the city's fourth district. With a population of about 160,000 people, it is bigger than the city of Escondido. Council President Tony Young is our district representative. He attends our meetings at least once a year. His representative, Roosevelt Williams III, attends our meetings every month. His very Presidential name complements his demeanor. Mark my words, Roosevelt will hold an elective office some day. He comes to lunch bunch wearing a suit and tie. As Thursday is our trash pick up day, our casual dress clothing inevitably has residue on it from the trash cans we dragged up our steep driveways prior to coming. Roosevelt patiently listens to our concerns ranging from the city trash trucks breaking our garbage cans to questions about when the streets are going to be repaved. ( It has been seven years since the city did any repaving due to the budget constraints. We are reassured monthly that we are "on the list of streets to be improved. ") Hopefully, the city will install the new sewer pipes before resurfacing the streets. The concern of the garbage trucks breaking the trash cans issue is answered by saying the cans only have a certain amount of life in them; expect to replace them every few years. At $95 each, this response does not sit well with my neighbors. Our rental had trash cans stolen; the city wouldn't reissue new ones. A call to environmental services said Toter brand trash cans sold at Home Depot would be acceptable. So we bought those sans run around from the city. They were also cheaper at $75 each. Probably won't be broken by the trash truck so easily either. Guess where Lunch Bunch residents are going to buy their trash cans in the future...
Other lunch bunch guest speakers range from Non-profit organizations, Community Relations Peace Officers and local business owners. Our police officers bring us a print out of crime stats for our neighborhood. Thankfully, it is very low for our area. One neighbor told me today her washer and dryer were stolen. They were at the curb awaiting pick up by a recycling company. Why doesn't the stuff I put out on the street get taken? Hey! Washer/dryer theif! Come to the North end of the neighborhood! You can have a dishwasher its owner will never get around to fixing. Just watch out for the Mastiff. And the pitbull that escapes once in a while. The issue against escaping pitbull neighbor is going to court so more can't be said at this time. But rest assured, the whole neighorhood talks about it. Why do you get off Scott free when another neighbor had to put her dog down only after buying special insurance and installing a fence that had to be approved by an outside agency? Life can be so unfair. The police also give us the right lingo to use when contacting them so our calls will be elevated to a higher priority. Words likes "weapons", "mental illness" and "repeat offender" are ones to remember when wanting a squad car to come right away.
At one meeting, our convenience store owner donated the costs of producing our monthly newsletter. In contrast, some guests only bring their big appetites and long list of demands for us to fulfill. When invited to speak, don't be self-serving; learn about the group whose food you are eating, and home you are welcomed into. People don't tend to open their wallets at these meetings and my neighbors with obvious health issues are not going to attend a skateboarding jamboree this weekend. Tell us how you fit into our neighborhood and maybe we will forego dessert to fill out your twenty page survey. But only maybe as dessert usually consists of homemade pies that rival the Julian Pie Company.