by Terry Theman
When it comes to community involvement I suppose it is our human nature to ‘watch from the sidelines’ while our friends and neighbors carry out various civic duties. I certainly find it easier and less stressful. While we appreciate the work done on our behalf, it is rare that we feel the need to pitch in and offer help. Strange how this works, this all-too-human nature of ours.
Of course I am referring to the activities of the BHDA and why this organization is deserving of the support of each and every one of us. It does not matter if you are not a home-owner nor even a resident of the Historic District. If you enjoy the ‘historic ambiance’ of walking around the neighborhood while viewing the magnificent homes and beautifully kept yards, you are a beneficiary. You are also a beneficiary when you bring guests to visit Historic Bethlehem. If you accept this premise, then it implies that anyone who values the preservation of the historic nature of this unique neighborhood has a moral obligation to support the mission and works of the BHDA.
It was not until I moved to this area that I realized that the Historic District is in need of its members to provide support and leadership to protect the district from outside interests that may work against what we seek to preserve. It is through the diligence and activism of our neighbors that we are able to sustain the charm, beauty, and distinct nature of this neighborhood. The BHDA is our valuable resource, one that keeps us informed about what is happening in our area.
Besides keeping us updated, there are other benefits that come with membership in the BHDA. While the primary mission of the organization is preservation of what we hold so dear, this organization gives us much more. Membership in the BHDA gives us the opportunity to socialize with our like-minded neighbors four times a year, and in the most charming settings. There are summer socials held in leafy, flower-filled backyards; a cozy winter get-together in a fully-decorated local home; and an annual meeting where good food and drink are shared while enjoying a lively debate about various community issues.
Additionally, there are real and practical benefits to membership. These include a tree-replacement program; a program to recoup some of the expense of installing historically-appropriate street lighting; a chance to welcome those who are new to the neighborhood; and opportunities to become educated about and involved in the local political scene when it impacts our neighborhood and values. Whether you own your home, rent an apartment, or simply frequent the Historic District, you have “skin in the game” to preserve this valuable heritage. For the remarkably low cost of $20/year you can help to do your part, to help us conserve what we hold to be so precious. For these reasons, please speak with your neighbors and all become supporting members of the BHDA!
Photo courtesy of Scott Hawk.