After my 15hr drive back from Brooklyn, I’m tempted to sleep the day away…wondering why my room had gotten so bright..
I guess, God has other plans for me.
The sun felt like confirmation to the end of a storm. Not only the storm of yesterday or last week- but an ongoing storm in life. Then I received a notification from the Word Of Faith app and tuned into their live service.
1 Samuel 4….as the preacher stated, a bad chapter for those in it, everyone dies. But even in this, there was hope- light at the end of a tunnel (literally) as a baby was born. Although a life line, it was not seized by the bearer, who named the child something like “the glory of God departed” before she died.
I had to review.
What am I giving birth to, and disregarding?
The journey to Brooklyn was emotional. Yes. I’m sure hard for many to believe as I don’t show many sad emotions (usually my sadness manifest in anger and aggravation) but it was very hard to “walk the last mile” with this lady…
…I refuse to dwell in sadness, as God has given me a reconfirmed focus and desire.
My three are now finally up & about- annoying each other, and in between Leah (12) made breakfast … Eggs & crescent rolls
I am blessed and favored, with people present and memories.
Now to get up and see the damage yesterday’s storm caused to my car. A tree greeted us in our driveway- all across our SUV. God must be making room in my life for a Tesla
Sharing a few smiles below, can you believe my baby has grown!
Oh I also brought home several packs of my favorite candy!! Can’t seem to find these in Atlanta
Needless to say, I am in a reminiscent state. I would blame it on “Throw Back Thursday”, however I’ve been falling into this state every time I sit in our office on RDA and look out the window. It’s a bit emotional. I get emotional when I think of how far we (community, colleagues and myself) have come, in a short period of time. Reviewing the work done to get us here is even more overwhelming. However, the joggers on the Beltline, festivals in the parks and multiple offers on a single home have been the reward and just the tip of the iceberg.
Let me back up for those who are new to the Rebirth of my SW ATL..
A trip home to Brooklyn NY, changed my life. I was very aware of the on going transformation in Harlem since the 90’s.
.. I saw it…I heard of it.. however, I did not live it since I didn’t frequent Harlem. It was something happening “over there”..as if Harlem was another Country and certainly something that would not impact me.
In the 90’s, I was comfortable living in Bed-Stuy. I had a 3rd floor Brownstone apartment , paying $800(all inclusive) a month and thinking THAT was too high since it was technically ONLY 1.5 bedrooms,a livingroom, eat in kitchen, hall and bathroom with skylights, walk thru his/her dressing area equipped with marble sinks and builtin dressers. How dare my 80yr old landlord share her old house with ONLY my 2 person family and expect us to pay all that?
Yup…Hindsight is 20/20.
During this trip home,a visit to 592 Decatur Street was priority as she was now 90, and had not seen my daughter in 3 years. It felt wonderful to really be home. I mean, truly home- with all the same sights, sounds, smells and yes, NY dirt I love. I was home and taking full advantage of everything. I had franks from the food CART (no truck needed to cart boiling water and buns), an authentic FRESHLY MADE Beef Patti from real Jamaicans (not the box from the supermarket), Gyro from the Gyro King off 34th St, a Hero sandwich from the corner Bodega (who already knew American cheese is suppose to be YELLOW) and a Mystic drink. Nothing disappointed me- it all was just as I had remembered and longed for.
Sitting on the stoop “people watching” was a nice evening pass time. Something I missed and still miss (Atlanta does not have stoops, most drive everywhere and if we had stoops, the mosquito’s would run us off!) However, there were many faces I did not recognize. My ex-landlord was quick to fill in the blanks with all the gossip (after all, she lived there over 50yrs and knew everything) “..she’s a doctor. That’s Ms. So& So daughter-she took over the house when her mom died, he’s the baby of the family-he’s grown now and has a wife home…” I didn’t mind listening one bit, she took pride in knowing and was happy that EVERYONE KNEW HER.I did notice some passing did not receive any recognition or introduction, despite their evening greeting. They were polished. A different race. And looked out of place, based on my memory of the street. Her only comment on this, “… Brooklyn is changing…like what they did in Harlem. My taxes have gone up…”
We were silent.
It was a sad moment for me to feel her unspoken fears. I did not know how to reassure her.
What could I possibly reassure? She was 90, I was 27. She lived longer and saw more.
Change is inevitable.
My return back to Atlanta was refreshing. I HATE to admit this, but I was tired after NY and welcomed the slower pace, a house with central AC and the stillness nightfall brought. I had come to find peace in the predictability of stores closing, transit stopping and people being indoors by a certain time.
Driving past Ashby Street train station will either leave you with a sense of “Hide your kids, Lock your doors” or it can leave you a bit curious about how this great community appears to be blighted from their major corridor. The park right besides the train would be welcoming to travelers- if you can excuse yourself to a seat besides the men/women sleeping on them. But, not only am I guilty of not visiting this park in the past 3years, I’m also guilty of just driving by and shaking my head. Historic Washington Park has a rich history that will inspire most; we just need to explore and find out more about it without fear and ignoring the stereotype.
So here it is, information from my favorite source, Wiki:
Washington Park is a historically black neighborhood in northwest Atlanta encompassing historic residential, commercial, and community landmark buildings. It is situated two miles (3 km) west of the central business district of Atlanta. The combination of gridiron and curvilinear streets is a result of the neighborhood having been developed from four separate subdivision plats. One of these plats created Atlanta’s first planned black neighborhood, while the other three were abandoned by white developers and adopted by *Heman Perry, an early 20th-century black developer. Although Perry did not receive a formal education past the seventh grade, in 1913 he founded one of the largest black-owned companies in the United States, the Standard Life Insurance Company of Atlanta.
The development of the Washington Park area is associated with the history of racial segregation in Atlanta. Prior to 1919, Ashby Street functioned as an early “color line” in the city. The area east of Ashby Street was established as an area for African Americans, and the area west of Ashby Street was established as an area for white settlement. Few white families were interested in residing so close to the historically black Atlanta University campus. Any plans for white settlement west of Ashby Street ended when the general manager of the Parks Department of Atlanta designated Washington Park as the first recreational park for African Americans in 1919. The Atlanta Board of Education re-designated Ashby Street School from white to black in that same year. With these two actions, the area west of Ashby Street was abandoned by white developers and this early “color line” was broken.
The collection of historic residences within the district consists of one- and two-story buildings built between 1919 and 1958 featuring exterior wood clapboard or brick veneer. These close-knit residences are fairly uniformly set back near the street-end of their narrow lots. The architectural types represented within the district include English and Georgian cottages, Georgian, American Foursquare, and the bungalow, the most commonly found type. The architectural styles found include Colonial Revival, English Vernacular, and Craftsman, which is the style most widely represented. There were few commercial buildings located within the Washington Park neighborhood, historically concentrated near the edges of the district at the crossroads of major streets, but many of these stores have been lost or altered. A c. 1930 gas station featuring an office block with a canopy remains, as well as a corner store with a large storefront window oriented towards the intersection. Community landmarks include the William A. Harris Memorial Hospital, the Ashby Street Theater, the Citizen Trust Company West Side Branch bank building, and the E.R. Carter Elementary School (formerly Ashby Street School)
One of the focal points of the historic district is the recreational park. Prior to the construction of Washington Park in 1919, there were no recreational parks in Atlanta available to African Americans. The park started with a gift of six and a half acres and expanded to 25 acres (100,000 m2) when completed in 1928. It originally included a swimming pool, dance hall, pavilions, and tennis courts. The Washington Park neighborhood has retained many of its landscape features; however, mass transportation projects, modern residential construction and subsidized housing development have caused the loss of some historic fabric.
Things to do here:Visit the Natatorium and Tennis Center 1125 Lena Street . I was nicely surprised when visiting the Natatorium on Ollie Street a few years ago. It was amazing -clean (warm-as I can not take the cold) and empty.
The leading black entrepreneur was Heman Edward Perry, who developed major black business enterprises in segregated Atlanta during the first quarter of the 20th century. Perry arrived in Atlanta in 1908 after learning the insurance business in New York. He perceived that there were great possibilities for insurance sales in the black community. Perry quickly began an effort to raise funds to finance his Standard Life Insurance Company, which was state-chartered in 1913. This company proved profitable and Perry began to expand into other commercial enterprises, which included banking, printing, and construction. Through these enterprises, Perry initiated a substantial part of the business foundation of the modern black community in Atlanta. Even his subsequent failures did not diminish his major impact in broadening black enterprise and pride in Atlanta
About 3 years ago I was able to spend a week attending a NeighborWorks community development/stabilization conference and classes. A few weeks prior, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. I KNEW it would not be easy to attend as all of my pregnancies have been “high risk”, however “not easy “ was an understatement. In between violently vomiting (all day “morning sickness”), sharp muscle spasms in my back, and having a condition which produced excessive saliva, I was able to network with others dedicated to community development and rebuilding blighted urban areas. It was one of the most draining and yet- exciting times in my life, especially being that it was held in New Orleans….a city not fully recovered from the Katrina devastation.
I can not believe that was nearly 3 years ago. Ironically, like in childbirth the pains and hardship one endures in that time (before and during labor) become a memory, once that which you anticipate has arrived. Now, it’s just the growing pains.
We have hundreds of Non-Profits in the West End of Atlanta and many new businesses come to our NPU seeking support with this status and mission to help rebuild. Most claim to do community development, or provide homebuyer resources. Honestly, I have seen very little impact from any agency within my neighborhoods. Yes, we do have UCDC (University Community Development Corporation) who have successfully participated in the NSP program- rehabed and resold homes to a few owner occupants. However, the success ratio of these non-profits make it very difficult for me to support them.
Why are those who have made it their business to redevelop communities limited in their accomplishments? Some will say they are lacking financial resources (grants are limited) and others may be lacking support. I personally believe the “business” of community development can not be a 9-5 Mon- Friday business alone. There were many things I learned during the week in New Orleans, one thing that resonates throughout my community is that a stabilized safe neighborhood can not be built without resident involvement. In our communities, what I do see are neighbors with no affiliation to anything, nor “C3’s” bringing in new residents, orchestrating clean ups, and public safety meetings.
In that spirit, this January 2013, Area West Realty will join with “Committed To Communities” in their event sponsored by The Beltline Team, Invest Atlanta and Wells Fargo Neighborhood Lift on a mission to support our neighbors with their efforts of community development. During this time, we will showcase available homes, affordability programs and some of the best features in our communities. We are making available, the City of Atlanta, bank reps and * RRC for one on one (no-strings-attached) conversations. We only need YOU!
Mark your calendar January 12thfor this event. We appreciate our neighbors and will have special “Thank You’s” for YOUR community development efforts. ( more information to come).
I also encourage those in the business, and neighbors NOT in the business, to invest in additional training at NeighborWorks America. The information received is priceless, the connections made will change lives.