Standing Against Racism in the Midst of a Changing Community Part 2 Report

1 Dec

Standing Against Racism in the Midst of a Changing Community Part 2 happened on August 29, 2011. There was a great turnout, which consisted primarily of people who live or work in the South French Broad neighborhood. These notes from break out group reports were just submitted. The minutes came in late because our note-taker broke his knee. There will hopefully be reports from the speakers coming sometime soon, too.

Group One:
Focus on relationship building within the neighborhood.  It is important to look at and understand the economic factors that influence or drive neighborhood change.  We value a diverse neighborhood and it is important to us to have relationship across diversity.  We want to work at sustaining this diversity.  The YW continues to be available as a meeting space to work on this.
Group Two:
It is important to honor people who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time, who have roots in the neighborhood.  We talked about ways to get things done in the neighborhood.  It is important to involve folks who live in Barlett Arms and in Aston Terrace/Highrise as members of the neighborhood and support them in helping improve the neighborhood.  We need to remember that a very small group of folks can have a negative impact on the neighborhood and we shouldn’t paint everyone in a certain part of the neighborhood with the same brush.  We’d like to have a block part in the grassy area where Grove St and Blanton St come together.
Group Three:
57% of the homes that have been sold in this neighborhood were involuntary sales.  We’d like to pursue policies that protect people who are long term residents of the neighborhood for example having property taxes be adjusted based on income (as is done in Baltimore, MD), make money available for repairs.  We are concerned about speculators “flipping houses.”  How can we as neighbors learn ahead of time about homes for sale and be involved in trying to help people with ties to the neighborhood purchase homes.  We’d like to meet with the city as a neighborhood about policies.  We could go to city council as a group.  How can we encourage accountability among neighbors about this issue of neighborhood change; how can we hold elected officials or other decision makers accountable for policies that effect the neighborhood.  It is important that we acknowledge the history of how and why the neighborhood has changed.  We need to talk with each other about what we want the neighborhood to look like.  What is the relationship between home loss (for Black residents and or working class residents) and the growth of public housing.  Could we pursue incentives for Black homeowners in this neighborhood.  What can we learn from other cities?
Group Four:
We want to get to know who are neighbors are.  We’d like to have a block party with a diverse group; we’d be willing to go door to door to promote it.  Lets have a meeting where we invite the mayor and chief of police to come.  We should walk through the neighborhood together, like a parade or a march, and invite our neighbors to come out and join us!  We need to address drug and prostitution problems directly.
General Comments:
Where are the churches on this issue?  It seems a big problem is the lack of jobs and industries close by that pay the kind of wage a family needs to live in and keep up a house in this neighborhood.  This is something Green Opportunities is very interested in and working on.

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