Saturday, May 24, 2014

From Crisis to Opportunity.....

Update: 
The person accused of murder in the Julie Paskall case makes another court appearance tomorrow. I will be there as I have been the last 3 times.(Our judicial system moves at a snail's pace.)

In many ways I feel as though I failed Julie. I didn't speak loudly enough, I wasn't persistent enough in drawing attention to the changes that we've seen in our neighbourhood over the years.  For me, this is as personal as it can get without ever having known Julie Paskall.

 Here's the original post from May 24.

Yesterday's announcement of an arrest in the Julie Paskall murder case took me by surprise. I was thrilled that police had a suspect in custody. My initial excitement was immediately followed by tears and emotion. Relief tempered by sadness over the senselessness of it all.
   To say Julie Paskall's vicious beating and subsequent death rattled  our community would be a gross understatement. Back in January there were demands for more police, more mental health services, a tightening of regulations on recovery homes that are often just flop houses and a call for the city to take meaningful action on its  plans for revitalization of the Newton Town Centre, the area where the attack on  Julie occurred.   There is definitely room for improvement on all fronts but we also need to change a system that allows chronic offenders to be back on the streets time after time ( sources say the suspect is known to police).

 However, amid all the sadness, frustration and acrimony of this dark time, a little ray of sunlight began to emerge in the Newton community. We realized we are just that.  A community. 
    
We came together and realized we weren't going to allow some punk's violent act define us. We are so much more than that. Like many parts of Surrey, Newton is a neighbourhood undergoing changes. We are on the brink of creating a new and vibrant downtown core. When you walk along 137th St between  Starbucks and the Wave Pool , past the Espresso Cafe and the ethnic grocery shops, you can see that this street and surrounding area has really good "bones".

Great things are going to happen here in the next few years. In fact if you frequent the places around the recreation centre and bus loop you may have noticed  neighbours getting together and creating happy, surprising and whimsical displays  of hope, resilience and most of all fun! The Friends of the Grove  lead by Newton resident David Dalley  held an event in May that attracted hundreds. The message? People can complain and bitch all day long, but what truly creates change is doing something positive and uplifting.
Watch Video of the event here.

Strangers of all ages becoming friends at The Grove.


So this afternoon when police hold their press conference  giving us more information on the suspect and hopefully  announce murder charges let's take a moment, remember Julie and her family and thank the police who are doing the best job they possibly can.
Then let's decide that the very best way to honour Julie Paskall and all other victims of crime is to become better neighbours.  That's the message  Julie's husband Al so eloquently conveyed at her memorial in January. Whether that's at home or out on the street. Let's talk to one another. Smile.  Ask the person behind you in a grocery store line up how their day is going. It's so simple.

 Newton, you have scars, but they are healing.  
We've undergone the crisis, now comes the opportunity.

So Very True