Thursday, June 4, 2009

20 Years From Now

20 years from now we pray, hope, and work that the neighborhood of Mapleton Fall Creek will be different. Often I do not know what that will look like. I think many of us have dreams and visions of what it will look like: maybe a community center for youth to play sports and do art, a post office, a walking and biking path, a grocery store in walking distance, for crime to be diminished, for poverty to disappear, for prostitution to be eradicated, we wish for neighbors to be their brothers and sisters keeper, etc etc.

We want it to be different, more of a community, and "better" (however you want to say it) but we also want the same people that are living here now to be present 20 years from now. I am seeing now that it is much more important to empower the community members to transform their own community, rather than creating programs, youth centers, and donating money so that the neighborhood can become more appealing.

Communities needs to be transformed indigenously, change needs to rise up. Not come from the outside by any sort of institution or person with power and influence.

What we must be weary of is what happened in this community and every other city in the United States, that the area will become appealing again because of the affordable rehabed homes, the new businesses, or the new art center that is erected to save the neighborhood, so appealing that the cost of living is to much for the current community members and more and more people move into this neighborhood displacing the neighbors of Mapleton Fall Creek.

Indeed, how to go about working within the confines on this neighborhood to create community, economy, opportunity, and mutual delight is hard, but even more so when there is a need go about it in away that we preserve what makes this community a real community. What makes this community what it is is not its location, streets, house, businesses, or community centers but the people who make a living here and raise their children here.

20 years from now I pray for a beautiful transformed neighborhood that has taken the good now brewing and allowed it to grab hold and contagiously go from neighbor to neighbor creating a new community, a new community not because of the new grocery store and schools for children to grow up in but because of the people that have transformed individually and all these individuals put together equal a new community.

If the members of this community are not willing to stand tall in the face of blight, institutions, the city, the church, developers, and everyone else trying to hussle for more, the cycle of gentrification will continue.

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