The need for civil neighbors

Last week our office fielded a call from a Rainier Beach woman upset about our coverage of James "Jage" Paroline's memorial service on July 20. She felt he was a rude neighbor with a confrontational, aggressive nature. She asserted that Brian Keith Brown justifiably punched Paroline because he probably mouthed off to Brown.

Let's be extremely clear here: James Paroline's behavior did not warrant any kind of assault.

It does not matter whether or not Paroline was a rude and nosey neighbor as some have been saying, or a kind person who was generous with his time, as others have stated. What does matter is that anger and impetuous retaliation suffocated common sense, patience and perspective.

Cool heads did not prevail on July 9 when Paroline's life ended and Brown's life changed for the worse with a subsequent second-degree murder charge. Remember, both outcomes resulted from a dispute over how to garden in a neighborhood traffic circle.

Tragedies of this sort are object lessons, and one of the most important things to learn here is the need for a healthy neighborhood whose members are engaged with each other. This doesn't mean you have to like everyone that calls your slice of Seattle home, but it does mean you need to know them and treat them with respect.

Fortunately such neighbor-to-neighbor social networking has already begun in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. On Saturday, July 26 the motivated participants and staff of Youth 180, a recently formed grassroots gang intervention program, held a community barbecue at the Fred Hutchinson Playground. The barbecue was the participants' idea and a response to Paroline's death. They wanted to show the youth of the area are there to help.

Youth 180 leads by example, and a good way to follow in their positive footsteps is to participate in the annual Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, August 5. Streets are closed during the event and neighbors roll out potluck buffets, set up games and toys for the kids and work on getting to know one another.

Contact the South Precinct's crime prevention coordinator, Mark Solomon, at 386-9766 or to sign your neighborhood up and find out how to get involved. The deadline for registering a block party is Saturday, August 2.

A healthy community is what you stand to gain, and, hey, you may have more in common with your neighbors than you think.[[In-content Ad]]