I’ve been on a neighborhood kick lately. As in the one I live in. Regarding this thought, my husband made this comment last week:
Someone can put in a donut store and a restaurant, but it’s not going to really make a long term change to the neighborhood.
Sure, we enjoy our local donut and coffee shop. The folks there are friendly and in my opinion, make the absolute best donuts in Lexington. Yes, it’s great to have a restaurant within walking distance of our home. Yet, he’s right. People are still living in poverty, still out of work, still walking down the street with a bottle in their hand. Nothing has radically shifted. I suppose it takes more than a donut store to do that.
I asked my husband what he thinks makes a real difference. How can we help make a change? He recently had a conversation with a guy he worked with a few years back. The guy, Ian Epperson, wrote a book about our particular area of town. He’s an expert of sorts, if there is such a thing, in pouring oneself into a specific, high need area of our city. Here’s what he said……. [paraphrased]
It takes a few years before you start to see a difference. Start out by sitting on your porch. Be outside, be around, be present. People will begin to know you’re different, that you care about the neighborhood. They’ll become comfortable with you. You’ll eventually get to know them.
In other words, we don’t have to go around, knocking on doors, inviting people over for a mixer of sorts. Whew! That was a relief. Sure, I’d like to have neighbors over for a barbecue, but it has to happen naturally. You can’t impose yourself on people. I truly believe that. Relationships are a process and a forced process is just that…..forced.
I came across this recently:
Building a Better World…One Home at a Time
Granted, I’m a Shane Claiborne fan and if my kids weren’t smack in the middle of teenage-ness, I just might push our family to move to Philadelphia. Anyway, his group raises money and purchases homes in their neighborhood. Then they sell them to people who otherwise could not afford a home. Obviously, there are many benefits to a community where the majority of the dwellers are homeowners. And we’re not just talking economics. One of the most, as my son would say, provocative, things in the above referenced article is this:
It’s hard to be a friend and a landlord. We always prefer to be friends so that can make us pretty bad landlords.
|For sale and on my street|
There are a few houses for sale on our street. How I wish I could invest. But alas, I cannot
due to our financial situation. How I wish churches would invest. Or Christian business people. Not for the purpose of turning a profit. But for the purpose of helping individuals and families who simply need a break. Wouldn’t that make for a lovely street? Fewer landlords; more homeowners.
It seems impossible, but I realize often big and important things do. I’m going to continue to brainstorm, considering the possibility I just might have to ask someone or a whole lot of someones to invest along with me.