Those First Creek Neighbors know how to sell a meeting.
Hauling people out of their comfy homes on a Wednesday evening so they can sign up for volunteer gigs picking up garbage and shooing away hookers, pimps and drug dealers is not as easy as you might think. But this group packs meetings to the standing room only point.
They start with impeccable manners in their announcement: "You are invited to attend the monthly neighborhood meeting of First Creek Neighbors Dec. 3. 2008, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Portland Avenue Community Center, 3513 Portland Ave."
No matter whether it’s delivered by e-mail, mail or flyer, it’s as gracious as an invitation to a tea dance.
Not that you’d get brass from the Tacoma and Puyallup Tribal Police departments and city Code Enforcement officers and Safe Streets at a tea dance. Those are the allies the neighbors have enlisted to help their East Tacoma neighborhood meet the Safe & Clean Initiative challenge of cutting crime by 50 percent and cleaning up Tacoma.
The partnerships are working out very nicely, thank you. So far, they’ve closed four drug houses and a meth lab, hauled away 25 tons of junk and 218 tires, routed illegal encampments, gotten the lights turned back on in Portland Avenue Park and parts of Portland Avenue, and organized a neighborhood patrol.
They are making life very uncomfortable for people who’d created a culture of lawlessness and blight in the area.
They intend to make them even more uncomfortable. They are keeping up the push-back against dealers, gangsters, drunks and hookers. They are fixing to sting the speed racers and the folks who don’t mind urinating and defecating in public. They’re having another community clean-up from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 13, sprucing the neighborhood up for the holidays.
They’re all sweetness and light. They smile at known dealers. At every meeting, they give out free energy-saving bulbs for porch lights.
If you’d like to join them or see how they’re doing this, as the invitation says, "Your attendance would be most appreciated."