Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised that Valentines Day didn’t take a nose dive with the economy. I happened to be driving through Columbia Heights, DC, an area see sawing on a boom of commercial and residential development and the bust of gentrification for working class blue collar residents. The remaining working class residents of this neighborhood are mostly Hispanic and African American. It’s not just the urban development that’s putting the pressure on them from the top, but it’s coming from the bottom — gang violence, crime. Good people are being sandwiched to the point that the filling is oozing out of the sides. Who takes the first bite? I heard their stories at a community meeting last month: robberies at gun point in front of their own homes; shooting sprees between waring gangs and drug dealers over shrinking turf; a beating of a homeless person while witnesses just passed by.

But yesterday, Columbia Heights was bustling with red, pink, roses, hearts carried by the same residents who probably carried the heart ache of the people who were part of that community meeting I attended last month. I was on my way to a Valentine Party hosted by a friend and her 3 year old daughter who was wearing a ballerina dress she picked out for herself just for the occasion.

Simple things can make hard times not so hard.