By Jamese Slade
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Despite East Durham’s stereotype as a crime-ridden and violent neighborhood, Uplift East Durham shows people what East Durham is really about.
UED is an organization made up of neighborhood residents that live in East Durham. Aidil Collins, a UED member since 2003 said David Arthur began the organization when he noticed all of the abandoned houses and realized that East Durham was constantly being portrayed negatively.
Arthur’s vision for UED is to revitalize the neighborhood and to focus on the future. “The group realized no one is cheerleader for the area and it has been neglected when it’s a really nice place,” said Collins.
“We are neighbors that come together and want to build our area to get more homeownership,” said UED member Kim Sage. “We want people to realize that our neighborhood is no more dangerous than anywhere else.”
UED makes sure that neighbors know each other by building relationships and promoting positive things going on in East Durham.
“When there is a good number of residents, where people are involved and have a good time, it increases the amount of care they have for their area,” said Collins.
UED is different from many organizations because they did not come together to deal with a particular problem or issue they wanted to resolve. Instead, their goal has always been to accentuate the positive aspects of their neighborhood.
UED has many neighborhood events where the neighbors can do things as a community. They do clean ups once a year and hold an annual home tour. During the tour, all the neighbors open their homes to realtors and members of the public who are interested in moving to the area or want to see the renovated homes.
“It is a stereotype that people from East Durham aren’t nice or fun, but we want to give the real life experience of what it’s like in the neighborhood,” said Collins. “It provides a more valid picture of Durham.”
“One of our neighbors had a yard sale and invited all the neighbors to bring some of their things over if they had anything they would like to sell,” said Collins.
Meetings for UED are held on the first Fridays of every month at 6 p.m. “We gather to socialize, relax, and have fun,” said Sage. The meetings are held at different neighbors’ houses. Anyone is welcome and the meeting dates are posted on the organization’s blog at uplifteastdurham.wordpress.com.
“We keep it really relaxed at our meetings,” said Collins. “Other neighbors are involved with other organizations and they bring back the key points to discuss in UED meetings to keep everyone updated. It is very much about supporting our neighbors. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, being a neighbor is the only thing that qualifies you.”
People in UED are very proud of their neighborhood and its greatness. “We talk about East Durham like it is one of our children,” said Collins.