Monday, December 24, 2007

Big Brothers

So the University of Chicago is attempting to reconcile with the Woodlawn community.

At this point the overtures have been met with mixed results.

From what I’ve seen, the University is talking a good game but it still seems that the true spirit of partnership isn’t there.

But on the other hand the methods of the past haven’t worked either.

When the epic battle between The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) and the University commenced in the 60’s, TWO won the battle but as those of us who live here can attest to, they lost the war.

Not only did Woodlawn lose a great deal of its population but from what I understand a majority of it’s retail as well.

Frankly, since I’m not old enough to remember Woodlawn as it was I have to rely on books, articles and the old timers who were around to see such things.

Nonetheless, things got bad for the neighborhood---really bad.

So while the University didn’t expand their campus further south, the entrenched powers that be turned from social activism to social services.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping.

But my version of help is providing a vehicle to affordable home ownership, not affordable housing.

Because as long as you have a landlord, it’s my opinion that you’re not quite the captain of your own ship---I’m just sayin’…

Whatever the case, it would appear that the old way of running things isn’t working.

Abandoned buildings, Empty lots, high crime, few local employment opportunities (that provide a living wage), low home ownership and lack of retail do not an attractive neighborhood make.

So it with cautious optimism that the overtures from the University are being received; if the old ways aren’t working, then perhaps it’s time to look at some new ones.

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