Our county—and the world, for that matter—shows a familiar pattern of choosing bulldozing and building at the expense of low-wealth communities. But in times like these, how can we work together?
The other night at the county commissioners’ meeting, I don’t think I was specific enough. Question: Have you ever lived in a crack-infested community before? When you have to walk between the dealers and the users—one looking for a faithful customer, the other for a friend and $7 to borrow? Cars are stopped in the middle of the road, mornings, nights and weekends. The community center is surrounded by a crack carnival—the city ready and willing to shut it down. Young men are running through your backyard littering, distributing, shooting.
Leaving church on a Sunday afternoon, shots ring out and the pastor jumps into his car and speeds off. Strangers are in the community. Neighbors are afraid to speak. Those that do speak want to know if you’re buying or selling.
We’re a community trying to make it right—a community with a rich history. And one day, it all starts to change: The drug traffic decreases and stops. Relationships develop. The community center is renovated. Speed humps are installed to slow rushing traffic. There are community gardens, drug counseling, sustainable housing developments, programs for the elders, job-training and job-creation initiatives, a community art space, cleanups—a community on the rise! And did I mention that we are receiving federal money?
This community-on-the-rise is now threatened by the I-26 connector. This community that made sacrifices to organize, to rebuild, to believe again. Burton Street—a community still wondering, “How can we all work together?”
— DeWayne Barton, member
Burton Street Community Association