Finding common ground

Local neighborhood seeks to build relationships between students and homeowners


Photo by Austin Wagner

Homeowner Jennifer Eddy and Junior Sarah Fulton share a laugh over muffins.


For many students, living off campus is a way to be independent and live with more freedom.

However, there are neighborhoods that run into trouble when student renters and homeowners coexist.

The Historic Randall Park neighborhood is struggling to balance the interests of both types of residents living there. The Historic Randall Park Committee reached out to the community and a new sub committee was formed: The Finding Common Ground initiative.

Katie Griffith, a UW-Eau Claire alumni who still lives in the Randall Park area, is the driving force behind FCG. Griffith said the two main goals of the initiative are to build relationships between homeowners and student renters.

“We want college renters to feel welcome and have a home away from home,” Griffith said. “We hope this in turn gets the homeowners to be able to trust their student neighbors better.”

Griffith said FCG aims to change the stigma about all college renters being trouble. As a way to spur this transition, members of the neighborhood engaged in a scavenger hunt on Sept. 18.

The hunt required participants to complete tasks such as borrowing a cup of sugar, finding a neighbor who needs babysitting and even finding a neighbor with an exotic pet. Prizes were given out to first, second and third place.

Alisa Polzin, a college renter, said this program is something new to her, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

“I appreciate the amount of effort made by the homeowners to include us,” Polzin said.

Polzin said the scavenger hunt was not just fun – it also allowed her to meet one of her neighbors who was a medical interpreter, which is exactly what Polzin said she wants to do for a career.

FCG also puts on a weekly event called “Monday Morning Muffins.” Community members bake muffins and offer them to passerby from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Monday on the corner of Third Ave and Niagara St.

Anyone with interests in Monday morning muffins or possibly other neighborly activities can find Finding Common Ground HRPN on Facebook and share ideas for future events.