Monday, March 16, 2015

What If You Live in a Bad City?

This is something I’ve thought about a lot. And it applies to living in a “bad” town or rural area, as well. What if you live in a place that is ugly, broken-down, dangerous, bereft of community? Is it better to leave? And if you stay—how do you help transform such a place?
There are different kinds of “bad” cities, and thus different ways of trying to involve oneself in the betterment of those cities. If any commenters have thoughts on “bad” cities or towns they’ve lived in, and how they’ve worked to get involved in those places, I would love for you to share your thoughts.
One of the first sorts of “bad” cities that comes to mind would be the dangerous one—a city that has enough crime and hostility within it to make inhabitants feel uncomfortable and alone, a city in which it’s difficult to trust people. There are rural areas like this, too—indeed, cities aren’t any more dangerous than rural areas,according to the numbers. How to build community here is a difficult question, one that I don’t have a holistic answer to (and it’s probably a question that doesn’t have a perfect answer). But one potential answer comes from Why Place Matters, an excellent book recently published by The New Atlantis. William A. Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, wrote an essay for the volume about “Place and Poverty,” in which he tells the story of Family House, a ministry in inner-city Milwaukee.

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