North Main, located near downtown, is a two-block residential street north of Isaacs Avenue and intersected by Pacific Avenue, another two-block residential street, making a four square block neighborhood. 

To the south is Whitman College, to the east is a well-to-do area of appealing old homes, at the north end is the Marjorie Terrace housing complex; beyond that to the northwest is a major park and school complex bordered by newer homes; to the west is a mixed area of older homes with a substantial proportion of low-income residents.  

North Main has large shade trees and is a great location for walkers, since the downtown is only four blocks away, Whitman College is across the street, and a park leading to the open fields on the edge of town is just to the northwest.  It is a mixed neighborhood of homeowners and rentals. 

After some research into experiences in other cities as well as Walla Walla, in July 1993 several of us got together to form the North Main Area Neighborhood Association, to increase our sense of community and mutual care. 

Our kickoff activity was a neighborhood street party in August, which became our signature event.  We petitioned the city to temporarily close off one block of the street, where we put up banquet tables and chairs for a potluck dinner, a ping-pong table, information tables for neighborhood committees and police department materials, a sound system, a badminton net, and in later years fire department vehicles and other activities.   We had all the neighbors introduce themselves and tell how long they'd lived in the neighborhood, heard a talk by the crime prevention officer from the police department, organized some games for the kids, had people sign up for clean up/fix up, crime watch, mutual aid, and children's committees, and sang some songs. 

For the initial event, a neighbor wrote a special song for the neighborhood, and the next year, neighbor Barbara Clark added another, naming all of our streets.  Here are the words:   

Mosey up North Main, Perambulate Penrose, Promenade Pacific Avenue,
Inch along Isaacs, roam down North Rose, And stroll on Sumach, too.
Now you should be feeling mighty good, 'Cause you're in a mighty good neighborhood! 

In later years, we added a circle dance, a water-filled balloon toss competition, badminton and ping-pong tournaments, chalk and crayon art, piƱatas, a bike rodeo, a kids talent show, and other events such as appearances by city council candidates. 

To aid communication, we produced a neighborhood map showing the numbers of each house, and a neighborhood directory listing the names and phone numbers of all the residents, including the children.  We even contemplated adding the names of neighborhood dogs.  We  also put out an occasional newsletter, the North Main Area Neighborhood News.   

Our first party coincided with National Night Out, a nationwide Crime Watch effort aimed at getting citizens to meet their neighbors and to create stronger, more crime-free neighborhoods.  While we become a part of the local crime watch program, and appointed block captains throughout the neighborhood, our association's activities have had a much broader focus than simply crime prevention. 

In October 1993, we organized the first of many neighborhood cleanup days for which we borrowed a large truck from Whitman College and a neighbor's work trailer and hauled several tons of trash to the landfill under an agreement we negotiated with the city to allow the pooling of individual dump passes.  The day before the first cleanup day we put on a yard sale with the proceeds going to the neighborhood, for which one neighbor made a beautiful afghan.  Over the years, our cleanup days have offered the occasion for contacting neighbors with large piles of trash and discarded furniture who are usually very pleased to have them hauled away, as we all are.   

The association has also been the vehicle for the planting of street trees throughout the neighborhood.  In November 1993, we were able to plant 10 new trees under the City’s expanded street tree program to help fill in gaps in our urban forest.  

Though we originally covered only four blocks, on a number of occasions we took responsibility for the broader area around us, including graffiti paint-offs at Memorial Park, at the old warehouse across from the park now owned by Whitman College, on the freeway underpass by Borleske Stadium, at DeSales High School, and in several nearby alleys.   

In 2010, we established a community garden, both for our immediate neighborhood and for the broader area around us.  As a result, we expanded the NMANA to include everything from East Rose and Isaacs Avenue on the south to Highway 12 to the north, and from DivisionStreet to the east to Colville Street to the west. The garden’s website is www.reesandsumach.org.    

For more information on the North Main Area Neighborhood Association, send an email to clarkdb@charter.net, or call Dan Clark at 509-522-0399.