Last week’s commentary in the Local [“A Chestnut Hill resident speaks out”] brought about a strong reaction that concerned me and many others.  It touched on a range of issues that could be individually addressed, but it got me thinking about the larger issue of civic activity as a whole.

In these nine years of volunteering for the CHCA, my involvement has lead me to being excited, challenged, motivated, exhilarated, exhausted, disturbed, dismayed, determined, re-energized, impressed, moved, disappointed, disheartened, relieved, renewed .  .  .

Civic work is all of that and more, and in Chestnut Hill we are unusually fortunate to have an amazing number of volunteers who are willing to get involved in the CHCA and other community organizations, to speak up, to volunteer in some little or big way, to show up and show they care, sometimes again and again.  There are so many organizations to join, most of which begin with the words “Chestnut Hill,” that it becomes confusing to discern one from the next.

The Chestnut Hill Local, owned and published by the Chestnut Hill Community Association, tries to keep its readers informed of important local news, including the activities of these organizations. As publisher, we do not dictate what the Local publishes. It publishes opinions that may not be factually correct, and provides a forum for people to communicate about the community, even if it is critical of the CHCA.

The CHCA is not always perfect. But what I will say is that the CHCA and many other Chestnut Hill organizations try very hard to do work that is important for this community and are supported by volunteers who are willing to become involved. People who criticize the output of these entities are also showing that they care. Their voices are important for everyone to hear.  I encourage them to be involved, to attend meetings, to see what they can add, to learn what is really going on, to understand the challenges and the options, and to bring new ideas to make things better.

The process isn’t always pretty, or easy or straightforward, but it is necessary.  Communities need a community organization. People who do this work bring their individual values and expertise into an arena where they try to arrive at the best consensus they can for all involved. The CHCA board, a group of committed citizens representing many aspects of Chestnut Hill, welcomes and encourages all who are willing to come give civic work a try.

We want the CHCA, including its board, to be even more representative of Chestnut Hill. The CHCA has the experience and expertise in place to do so much, and we could do so much more if more people would step forward and become involved.

In this season of the Community Fund Drive, aided by the CHCA, it is important to remember that at our best, we join together to contribute in small ways and large to the common good, to aid local organizations who give back to the community and help improve, for all of us, what it means to live in Chestnut Hill.

Jane M. Piotrowski

CHCA –President

Chestnut Hill Resident

  • Tracy

    Well said…

  • mikeg

    Why not separate the DRC and the various zoning and planning committees from the CHCA? That way, the CHCA can focus on the many remarkable activities and events that provide the cultural life to our neighborhood. The work of the DRC and its committees is tough, often contentious and adversarial stuff.

    Since there is already “supply” of qualified professionals in Chestnut Hill to sit on the zoning and planning committees and since they are volunteer positions, the operational costs for the DRC etc. I would expect are quite low (at least compared to the numerous community events and activities the CHCA runs throughout the year). Having the two (the CHCA and the zoning/planning bodies) as separate entities would enable the zoning issues to be addressed and decided by the experts, and the CHCA to operate without the negativity that can so often disturb, dismay, disappoint and dishearten.

    Just a thought.