I had an incident the other morning on my way to work. I had to chase a couple of people from behind my house who were about to do drugs. I had my children in the car and was just about to pull out of my driveway. Now I often chase people from my alley when I notice them participating in illegal activity. My husband often tells me to leave them alone, but I strongly believe that if I don’t say something to them, who will? The police simply cannot be everywhere, every time.

Now I’m careful, and I’m often polite, because I believe that violence begets violence, and typically they’ll say, “Sorry, Ma’am” and move on along. But this particular woman was very upset that I was interrupting her drug use. She threatened and cursed me as my children sat in the car.

But what stood out for me was that she knew I was relatively new to the West Side. She shouted an interesting retort at me. She said, “You knew how it was when you moved here.”

I thought about her words on my drive to work. She was right. I did know, but I thought as more and more middle-class families moved into this community, people would see different examples and begin to alter, or at the very least show greater respect for, their neighbors and fellow man.

In the two years I’ve lived here, I have seen some of that happening. More and more people or working on their properties and more and more homes are being rehabbed, bringing new families with middle-class attitudes and values.

In this young woman’s case, I sensed a need to hold onto a familiarity of a sort. I believe she wanted to hold onto what she’s always done, in the way she’s always done it, and she saw me as an intrusion on that system. I thought about my own life when someone has attempted to change something I was not physically, emotionally, or spiritually ready to change. I probably, too, have reacted with hostility.

But change is inevitable. If we only look to the trees and the vegetation around us, we will see that. Change is coming to the West Side. By this woman’s own admission, change is coming, as she knew I was someone different from the residents she had previously encountered. On my drive, I prayed for her and wished her well.

I recommend to all the new homeowners, and existing ones as well, to foster change in your small stretch of the universe. Send out positive and good vibes; ask lightly for the respect of your property and know that your word will not return empty. There’s no need to fight or demand-change happens slowly and over time. Only don’t be afraid to put out the request kindly to your neighbor and remember, violence begets violence. A soft word can break a bone.