Jarren Long looks more like a graduate student than a community leader, but the 28-year-old computer tech entrepreneur is in charge of one of Spokane’s oldest neighborhoods.
The Nevada Heights Neighborhood Council, responsible for most of Spokane’s North Side residential area between Division and Crestline street, tapped Long to be its 2018 chair. Long’s partner, Debra Shutt, will serve as the council’s secretary.
“Jarren and Debbie were members all year last year,” said vice chair Mindy Muglia. “They were part of our technology department … getting us up into the computer era.”
“They have that passion and knowledge,” she said.
Long’s millennial sensibilities are already paying off. “Within two months we should have a full social media presence, so we can really start getting the word out,” he said.
“That’s how the younger generation really connects,” Muglia said. “It’s how everybody is starting to connect.”
Muglia and the exiting chair, Christy Jeffers, now the treasurer, are council veterans.
“We all bring different strengths to the board,” Muglia said. “I think when you bring all that variety (of experience) together it works well.”
Long’s first task is an obvious one. “We want to get people involved and aware that we’re here,” he said. “In this neighborhood, a lot of people don’t know we exist.”
Shutt set up a table for Spokane Community College’s most recent volunteer fair, handing out flyers and business cards and talking to neighborhood residents about filling vacant committee slots.
“I got a few people who seemed to be interested,” she said. “I will be … doing that again in April.”
The council’s 2018 agenda includes a pollination garden, curbside cleanup, movie nights and a bike rodeo.
“We try to stay away from political things,” Muglia said. “We try to stick with broad things that affect everybody in the neighborhood.”
The council plans to break ground on the pollination garden in the spring, replacing the random weeds and scrub around the council offices with wildflowers that will attract the neighborhood’s bee population.
“Bees travel 4 miles to pollinate,” Long said. “If we build a garden here, it’s going to help everyone in the neighborhood.”
Muglia wants to get the neighborhood involved and invested in the garden. “We want to feature some items in there that the elementary school kids can be a part of, maybe with some rock painting,” she said.
“We’re looking for win-wins all around,” she said. “We are going to help the bees, beautify our office, and then help (neighborhood) gardens.”
The established curbside cleanup plan will carry over, with neighborhood cleanup in the spring, large furniture and appliance pickup in the fall.
Nevada Heights council partnered with the Zion Christian Center, across the street from the council’s home on the corner of Wellesley Avenue and Addison Street, to hold two movie nights in last year.
“We had kids out there playing football and Frisbee,” Muglia said. “We had face painting and balloon animals.”
The council brought the popcorn and served hot dogs. Over 300 hot dogs were eaten, Shutt said.
“We had a lot of people just stop as they were driving by who saw this big 12-foot screen out on the lawn and all the people,” Long said.
Long wants to make movie night a tradition.
“That’s a great way for us to build awareness,” he said.
“If you know your neighbor, you are less likely to hate your neighbor,” he said, laughing.
Jeffers is planning the bike rodeo.
“Christy has done a lot of research in the last year about successful bike rodeos in town,” Muglia said. “We want to offer that in our neighborhood and get people exposed to the great bike lanes.”
The council meets at its office, 4707 N. Addison St., on the second Wednesday of every month.
“I tell people to come get their toes wet, go to a meeting … see what they like,” Muglia said. “This is your backyard.”
The youthful council is optimistic. “I think our neighborhood’s in an alright place,” Long said. “It just needs a little bit of revitalization.”
“I plan on retiring here,” he said.
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