For four years now my church has been volunteering at the Weinland Park Neighborhood Festival, held right before school starts. WP is on the southeast side of campus and is what some might considered a blighted neighborhood, but from what little I understand there are a lot of people within and around the community that care a great deal about its well-being. There’s been a bit of hubbub lately about gentrification as landlords renovate properties and raise rent beyond the means of many long-time residents. (WP has one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing in the county.) I also remember reading an article a few months ago about how residents were irritated by outside researchers treating the neighborhood as a case study in urban sociology but nothing more, and I can see how certain actions might come across as very white-man’s-burden. But I think what Weinland Park has going for it is the large number of people and organizations that have made WP their own home and are in it for the long haul.
It made me look critically at my own choices. As much as I say I am a city girl (by which I actually mean “not a small-town girl”), I have lived the majority of my life in very suburban settings. Though I lived on and around campus throughout college and grad school, as soon as I could I left and I confess that I don’t have much desire to go back. I cite safety concerns, but if I’m honest, I think it’s dirty and noisy and I just don’t want to give up my own comfort to commit to making the city a better place. (Although I guess there is the whole matter of my teaching on the east side.)
Jonah 4:11 – And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?
Some snapshots from the day, all of which, incidentally, make me want a new camera even more. BUT I am forcing myself to be patient and actually earn/save conscientiously the money for it. Until then…