Saturday, March 08, 2008

Creating Neighborhoods of Hope

It’s a snowy weekend. Other than shoveling the white stuff, and making French toast with all the bread and milk you bought, why not do some reading?

A spirited discussion was sparked by friend Bluegill over at New Albany Confidential this week regarding the true emphasis of strengthening code enforcement efforts. It’s about children and preparing them for life – and that starts with providing them a safe and secure place to live. There’s really nothing else to say about the importance of code enforcement.

As revitalization strategies are defined and put into action, there’ll undoubtedly be attention given to the physical environment we live in. We spend a lot of time focused on the physical environment – housing conditions, cleaning up trash, etc. No less important will be the strategies for the most important resources we have – the people and specifically the children that live here.

I’m excited about the possibility that, while developing neighborhoods of choice, we also create neighborhoods of hope. Places that actually enable people. For me, this means education opportunities. And here are some examples of how this could be made a reality.

The Kalamazoo Promise. “The Kalamazoo Promise is a scholarship offered to every Kalamazoo Public School student. The Kalamazoo Promise is much more than a scholarship program; it is a catalyst to making the Greater Kalamazoo Community an even greater community.”

Just imagine what a program like this would do for our community.

Schools and Neighborhood Revitalization: An Invitation to New Thinking
By Michael Schubert (

“The path that connects schools and neighborhood revitalization is not as well traveled as it could be. As community development has become more sophisticated and project-driven, the idea of strengthening and connecting to local institutions has sometimes been moved back in importance – relegated to the “soft” side of the work. But if neighborhoods are going to succeed and be competitive as places, schools have to be part of the mix.”

Please read this short essay by revitalization professional Michael Schubert. It is full of realistic strategies that would link schools and neighborhood revitalization efforts.

And lastly is this article from the Courier Journal yesterday. It’s an interview with Cathe Dykstra, Executive Director of Project Women. I was not familiar with the group before reading this article. This is an amazing organization that I hope to learn more about. They had me after I read the headline of the article – “Cathe Dykstra says one way to lift up children is to get their mothers back into school”.

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