When I bought my home in 2006, I knew I would be moving into what outsiders might consider a “bad” neighborhood. Personally, I prefer the term “transitional”. I like words. I think words mean something and everything can be spun in a positive or a negative light. Our transitional neighborhood boasts a really eclectic mix of people from the elderly, to young families, young couples with no children to middle-aged couples raising their grandchildren. We are diverse in every way, ethnicity, income, age, and stage of life, but it works.
A mile from here, you can find Section 8 housing. A mile from there, homes sell for half a million dollars. So what is this perception we have of “safety”? Does your location really matter when we are talking about random acts of violence and theft?
Is choosing to live in a transitional neighborhood unwise? Or is there the possibility that becoming a homeowner and bringing pride of home-ownership to the table would help revitalize the existing residents? Obviously, my personal bias is for the latter. But I bought my home as an investment. Not just financially, but geographically as well. I believe my neighborhood is a quality investment for the area and in the 4 years I have been here I have already seen much improvement. I feel safe here. There may be people who don’t.
What I want to know is, what makes a safe neighborhood safe? And what are we doing about the ones that aren’t safe?
As I mentioned in my comments about our local School Board changes, I believe the only way to see the change is to be the change. Of course that is nothing new (thank you Ghandi) but it bears repeating. I have to admit that I don’t have a lot of diversity in my life apart from my neighborhood. I stay at home with Oscar, I attend a church primarily made up of other young white people and while I fight it, my heart is full of prejudice based on any number of reasons from my lifetime.
In deciding to move into this neighborhood before I was married and before I had any children, I wanted to be the change. I felt that I was meant to be in this home for this season and I needed to learn from the people around me. And I have learned SO much. Now that we have a (hopefully) growing family we are of course faced with the question of safety, but at the same time see the value in bringing Oscar up in an area rich with culture and diversity. I don’t know that I would ever let him do the things I did as a child, no matter what area we live in. It is just a different world now. With that in mind, I am perfectly comfortable staying right where we are.
As Americans, we love our safety and we take it seriously. We are armed and protected and safeguarded from every side. But is that the most important issue? How safe is your neighborhood? How would you feel about living in a transitional area? Do we focus on the issue of safety so much that it is detrimental to our own personal growth?
***photo courtesy of chrisdlugosz