I turned south on Raible to Nichol Avenue, then west to Costello, turned around and came back east. Oh my. Except for a sprinkling of business bright spots, this essential east/west corridor needs a facelift and more. Hard on the eyes.
Before finishing my “eye test,” I had driven north, south, east and west on every street in the area. I always found those bright spots. But, in general, there were signs of neglect, abandonment, and hopelessness. Depressing. Puzzling.
Back at home, I took the “eye test” another step. I read an up-to-date statistical report on people living in the area — their poverty level, health status, crime data, unemployment rate, home ownership levels, educational achievement data and school dropout rates, out-of-wedlock births, teen pregnancy rates, and other “quality of life” information.
When I put what I had seen with what I read, I concluded that, if this community area were a human patient, call an ambulance. Put that patient in intensive care! Communities, you know, are not just bricks and mortar and businesses and sidewalks and so forth, communities are nothing more than the people who live in them. The transformation of any community requires an investment in its people.
The main conclusion I drew from my “eye test” experience is that the section of the west side I described did not pass. Why would we — all of us — let the Nichol Avenue corridor and the west side languish? Are we not one community, that is, a community of communities? In the spirit of community, I get it. We care. But caring is not enough.
I know there are organizations such as the NAACP, the Urban League, The Anderson Impact Center, the MLK Foundation, Black Expo, the Black Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, as well as churches, neighborhood groups, and stalwart activists working hard to make a difference.