Charity As Commerce

I am constantly amazed at human ingenuity and ignorance. Give us a mammoth problem, and we’ll give you a magnificent solution; then we forget it! We hide our bright lights of hope under bushes of –isms: Nationalism, Racism, Sexism, Color-ism, Ethnic-ism, Age-ism, Sexual Orientation-ism, Disability-ism.
Cases in Point: Charity As Commerce (The New/Old Concept of Making a Way Outta No Way)
About 50 years ago, my grandfather, William Holmes Borders, Sr. embarked on a project of parochial community investment that became approximately 30 acres in downtown Atlanta of housing, retail and banking assets unparalleled nationally. The project stands as a testament to what can happen when a few good people take a seemingly insurmountable problem, e.g. 1950-60s African-American Poverty & Segregation, and transform it into something spectacular, e.g., Wheat Street Gardens, Towers & Credit Union, a Cinderella story of “Urban Blight to Bright.”
In 2010, the 22-acre Wheat Street Gardens apartments, a low-income housing community, were replaced in part by a 4-acre farm, this in response to the Food Desert challenge in the area. The project, brainchild of Rashid Nuri, founder of Truly Living Well Center for Urban Agriculture, has been recognized in the media, but I’m wondering how long it’ll take before this brilliance will be forgotten. Will history revisionists leave this story out because many of the project volunteers are white? Will African-Americans continue to shrink from such an empowering initiative for food sovereignty because of residual slavery associations, or as Dr. Joy DeGruy would suggest, Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder?
Two years ago, an architecture competition inspired amazing ideas for resolving Jakarta overcrowding and waste problems, the winning entry involved building housing over trash dumps and using unemployed neighbors to recycle the waste. I digitally stumbled upon this gem and can see its applicability to my own community, but will it be discounted because it WASN’T INVENTED HERE, but by a firm in The Netherlands for an Indonesia drowning in people, pollution and paper?
Can you imagine where the world would be if we could get out of our own way?? See through our fears and prejudices to an unbelievably bright future? I think we’re infinitely capable of such greatness, and we can begin with each of us seeing bold change AND THEN being that change. I invite you on this tempting, titillating & tumultuous journey with me. Where and how will WE continue together?


1 Comment

  1. Eke'vu said,

    January 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm


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