Happy Birthday to You

Woman with a hawk standing in front of YSI  with a sign that says Happy Birthday EastMIKE LOVES BRENDA was emblazoned in bright pink and purple letters across a board that dangled from a power pole as I drove to work in the morning. Then on the stop sign another: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRENDA. Another mile down the road and Mike once again declared his love, and yet one more time on the freeway on-ramp where she would be sure to see it.

The annual outpouring of sentiment that falls on the date of one’s birth attracts attention to the all too short span of human life. We have ticked off another percentage point in our allotted years. Even when there are only cards or good wishes to mark our milestones, we often protest any attention we receive while secretly loving it, or we may be genuinely dismayed to, once again, have it brought to our attention that our time is limited. Our reaction to the passing of the year may depend on what we have accomplished, or failed to, in the intervening time.

In youth, a year is a long time. Years are almost always filled with growth and change. Lessons are learned; new doors are opened. We rejoice that the young have lived through another year with all its perils and hazards. Life, we know, is precarious. Birthdays are a chance to celebrate endurance.

As with individuals, the first year of a business is a precarious one too. Many do not survive, even those with the most promise. But when they do, it is, indeed, cause for celebration.

One such business has not only survived its first year, it has emerged alive and well, vigorous and growing. East, The Neighborhood Voice, put out its first issue on June 3, 1999. How exciting it has been to watch it grow. And what fun it has been to be part of it.

Jason Rodriguez, the publisher, and Jeff Butler, the editor, embarked on a great adventure just a year ago with the first edition of the East. Neither had undertaken such a project before. What a bold move to venture forth into territory that is open to so much public scrutiny.

But they have captured the spirit of the Eastside. They, and those of you who read and contribute to the East, have created a weekly chronicle of what it’s like to be part of a fully alive, rollicking, frolicking, neighborhood where diversity and discussion is not just tolerated, but encouraged. This anniversary is a time to consider all that has been accomplished.

Whether you celebrate birthdays with ice cream and cake or kung pao chicken and Diet Coke, have some, and raise a glass in tribute to the East this week. Salute those who have taken the risk to bring you the good news from the neighborhood; those who have celebrated the businesses, the students, the land, the issues, and the people that surround you.

And, if you seem so inclined, hang up a card for them in front of your house, on the nearest telephone pole, on your car, or in your window.

From all of us at YSI


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