To the editor:

I was very disturbed by the July 28 article “The Welcome Wagon’s on the Blocks” in which I was repeatedly misquoted by the writer, Sergio Barreto, on the response of north-side neighbors to the Old Town School of Folk Music and their recent Folk & Roots Festival. Rather than accurately quoting my statements and their intended meaning, it seems that Mr. Barreto instead chose to change or manufacture statements to suit his story angle.

As I told the writer in our prior phone interview, in the two hours (not entire “weekend”) that I spent working at the North Center (not “North Town”)/Lincoln Square Neighborhood Association festival booth, one woman (not “a lot of unhappy neighbors”) expressed discontent over the noise level of the festival.

I did not say, “The night Patti Smith played was impossible. That’s not what we want for the neighborhood. It’s a real issue right now.” Rather, I expressed no opinion about what the neighborhood wants regarding the festival, because I honestly don’t know how the neighborhood feels about it. However, I did express concern for the neighbors within earshot who may have been upset by the noise and suggested that OTS might offer them free tickets or a free meal.

I did not say, “But the school hasn’t shown interest in preserving what was unique about the neighborhood before they moved in, the things that fostered a sense of community, the diversity.” What I said instead was that Old Town School of Folk Music has been perceived as a catalyst of change in our neighborhood, along with a thriving economy and the gentrification that has been creeping up the north side. I did say that the school should realize the effect it has on a neighborhood and work with the community, especially in light of the fact that as a school of folk music they believe in preserving traditions. I did say that they had already offered, during the community’s campaign to save the Davis theater, to have a benefit performance to fund the theater. I also expressed my desire to speak to Gail Tyler, acting executive director of OTS, regarding the school’s involvement with the neighborhood. She and I have since spoken, and she is very enthused about meeting with our association and getting our input on next year’s fest.

Regarding selling homes to the highest bidder, I did not say, “But you get a realtor throwing all this money in your face, and if you say no another one’s going to come and offer even more, so of course sooner or later you’re going to say yes.” I did say that I hoped we could encourage home owners to sell their homes to people who wanted to live in them rather than to developers who wanted to turn them into luxury buildings and resell them at much higher prices.

Our newly formed neighborhood association is working very hard to establish relationships with members of our community so that we can successfully preserve the neighborhood’s character and diversity. Though Mr. Barreto, a resident of our community, may have been attempting to help the neighborhood with this story, he should know that his inaccuracies not only cast serious doubt on his credibility as a journalist, but harm the neighborhood by jeopardizing relationships we have been working so hard to build.


Mary Edsey


North Center/Lincoln Square Neighborhood Association