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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year - re-direction for this blog

Bret said...
There are probably three things that are the biggest problems with the murders on the East side. They're complex problems, with a lot of other moving parts, but if you fixed these three things, a lot of the problems would go away:
1) More police (which takes money from taxpayers)
2) Better Schools
3) More job opportunities or better public transit to the available job opportunities.

Scaring the hell out of people that KCMO is not safe -- causing people and businesses to not want to relocate here - is going to make at least 2, maybe 3, of these problems worse, not better.
It doesn't mean we should try to stop the problem -- but we should just run around waiving our hands that the sky is falling when it is all statistically very predictable.
1/06/2009 09:17:00 AM

Do You See Me? said...
This city was built on fear and continues to feed the suburban growth with the same fear mongering. We reap what we sow and now we don't know how to turn it around because it is out of control. The Eastside will turn around when we get the 3 things Brent identified. But those won't come until fear no longer works to the advantage of the white "haves." The city is exactly as we want it. Want something different? Do something different.
1/06/2009 11:04:00 AM

mainstream said...
Better schools, more police amd more jobs aren't anything near new concepts.
They're meaningless statements, and bullshit platutudes that require no skill or critical thinking.
Now, ideas that will make these three, and other things, happen is another story.
1/06/2009 02:58:00 PM
This a running commentary on a story posted at Tony’s Kansas City about a blog post at Toellner Tells It concerning the record high murder rate on the Eastside of Kansas City – the poorest, mostly African-American and Latino part of the city. I used to live there. The original post on Toellner is of little interest to me, but the blog’s author, Bret made an amendment to his blog and posted it at TKC (above). I then commented on why things don’t change (Do You See Me?), followed by an acerbic retort from Mainstream (a frequent commenter on KC blogs). This is the kind of political conversation I am used to on a daily basis in Kansas City. I have searched in vain for such dialogue in the blogging community in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Maybe people in the Philly part of the world are cynical or have given up. In contrast, the Midwest is often optimistic, often opinionated, and sometimes derogatory on its own condition. Kansas City is lamentably referred to as a “cow town” by its own people. Maybe the Philly area is so often the butt of jokes from outside the area that they don’t take themselves seriously? Consider how many “joisey” jokes you’ve ever heard. These two streams of thought – the political commentary about the urban condition and the activism of bloggers in KC and the lack of the same in Camden -- leads me to a couple of thoughts that will redirect my blog for awhile.

1. I learned a heck of a lot while I lived in KC and I continue to keep up with what’s going on there because it is an interesting political place for someone like me who really follows local issues and is dedicated to urban revitalization. So how I can I use what I learned there to affect improvement in Camden?

2. “Mainstream” has a point – we can make platitudes all day about revitalization, but what is the blueprint? I feel like I have worked on that my whole life and yet – what difference have I really made? What are the answers to “mainstream’s” questions and how can I make that a reality in Camden?

My best friend often says, play big or don’t play. I agree. I like to remind myself that if you aren’t in the game, you’re just taking up space on the planet. This is my game and I plan to play big.

In my next post I will have some preliminary thoughts on answering “mainstream’s” questions. I hope that the community of civic minded and thoughtful people in the Camden area will find this blog and begin a dialogue with me as well as bring me into whatever existing dialogues take place that I have yet to find.


Xavier Onassis said...

My take on the east of Troost murders is this.

If they don't care, why should I?

If they care so little about each other that they are willing to shoot each other for a percieved "disrespecting" or dirty look, I can't fix that.

There is no amount of concern I can exhibit, no amount of effort I can exert, no amount of token sacrifice of my alledged SUPREMECY that I can give up, no amount of putting myself at risk by living in a blighted neighborhood as a gesture of solidarity that will make a difference.

The people who have the problem need to solve the problem. I can't fix it for them.

Stop killing each other.

Stop walking around with a chip on your shoulder demanding respect without doing anything to earn it.

Stop dealing drugs trying to bypass the painful path of working honest, low paying jobs in an effort to prove yourself so you can get better jobs.

There is no shame in flipping burgers.

Start talking to the police and telling them who did it. You know. You saw it. Tell them.

Start snitching. Snitch often!

Pick up your phone and call the police when you see criminal activity.

Testify in court.

That is how you make your neighborhood a better place.

Fix it yourself.

Don't expect people who don't live there to care more about your neighborhood than you do.

Us suburbians don't have a magic remote control with a button that says "reduce urban violence".

You're on your own. Fix it.

KC Sponge said...

I understand you not caring about the murderers - but why not the murdered? Maybe not the gangsters - but what about the ganged upon. Not the hard lifers - but what about their families. These people all live in these places that you like to put off on 'their own'.
People who are priveledged to live where they choose to live are lucky. A lot of people with such priveledge choose to live within these societies that are left to deal with the problems - because they don't find concrete and tree-named streets to make up for the loss of unique culture and collective community you find nearer to the center city.
XO, you choose where you live, you like where you live. We are not looking to you to solve our problems. People that live in the suburbs 'escape' the urban issues, so obviously do not have the time or interest to help. It does not change the situation we have here. It does not make the mother who lost her 2 year old in a cross-fire shooting any less sympathetic. It does not make the lack of resources for our youth any less critical. It does not erase the amount of blight that criss-crosses our neighborhood. We talk about it because we want to face it - not because we're looking for your solutions or 'magic buttons.'
Choice is an important factor in this discussion. Yes, these people choose to live their life like they do. But they should not get to shape the choice of where others live and shop and work. Your choice to remove yourself from the discussion and the effort should not shape my choice and my freedom to reach out and find others who seek to find answers or even share frustrations.
I do not - and I know the professor does not either - want to guilt you into helping us find solutions. You found yours. Just because we choose a different path to find our own does not mean that our conversation should be chided.
And if you think I just shouldn't care what you say - come on, you're the hippest, most suburban white guy I know. ;)