We live in strange times. Our small town is swelling, and evolving into a city. While economic growth is associated with progress, it also brings new issues.
Typically in a smaller community, most folks know each other, whether it's through mutual acquaintances or a direct connection. As a community grows, these connections become strained, and we are no longer able to maintain close relationships with our neighbors that we once had. What was a community then becomes a loose association of individuals, that just so happen to live in the same place. It is at this time that a community that was once united, begins to divide itself into smaller groups. These smaller groups are no longer concerned with the community as whole. Their concern now rests within the confines of the sub group that has been created.
Neighborhoods are a great example of these sub groups. More often than not people who dwell in the same area have many things in common. What they have in common can be anything, but the most prevalent factor is economic status. Generally speaking, Individuals who are living in the same area, are earning close to the same amount of money, and maintaining the same "quality of life." Individuals no longer have to interact with anyone that does not share their beliefs, or standard of living. Now that we have these neighborhoods, in this city, what happens?
I'm going to put this frankly. The people that one would call upper class, or dare I say, wealthy, no longer have to interact with those that are economically "below" them. When most privileged members of society are forced stare poverty in the face their reaction can easily be predicted.
One reaction, probably the most customary, is to ignore it. Ignoring poverty almost seems to be a national pastime. It's as if pretending low income neighborhoods ruled by slumlords do not exist, they will somehow disappear. Another popular reaction of the upper class is the criticism and ridicule of those less fortunate than themselves. "Poor people are just lazy, they just need to stop being poor." For those of you who take this approach,. I challenge you to attempt the following: Cut your budget down to the average monthly earnings of an individual considered on, or below the poverty line. Better yet, take a job in the service industry. Maybe you could see just how "lazy" the working class is.
At some point, privileged community members get tired of ignoring the problem and criticizing the working class, gets boring. This is when the wealthy use their financial influence to pass legislation that will slowly, but surely displace impoverished people. To put it bluntly, those with political influence will go to great lengths to remove the undesirables.
So, how exactly do affluent people and elected officials execute such a scheme? When approaching this question, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The first thing we must come to understand is that, this is a collaborative effort. Elected officials rarely act without influence, and influence is created by the affluent. I believe the artist Coolio said it best, "Power in the money, money in the power. Minute after minute, hour after hour."
The next thing we need to remember is that these matters are handled tactfully. You won't see anything happen over night, it is more than likely that most people won't know whats happening until it's too late. It usually begins with something seemingly harmless such as a law passed to "protect property values." Like Mooresville's new law pertaining to the construction of mobile homes, which most people would consider to be low income housing. It is no longer permissible to construct or move a mobile home withing the city limits of Mooresville.
It is time to face the facts, our town is changing, and change is good. However, when change only benefits the upper class it can be defined by one word, gentrification. Gentrification is the process of improving old neighborhoods in order to attract wealthy people to an area.
In other words, slum lords will start fixing up low income areas, then they'll raise the rent/cost of living in order to get low income families to leave. OR wealthy corporations will buy the property from the slum lord for a price well above the properties current value. Then our corporate friends will evict the families living in the area, and then tear down any evidence that the area was once an affordable place to live. Finally, they'll build overly expensive condos and high rise apartments that only a select demographic of economically privileged individuals can afford.
We have come to a turning point. We as a community can choose to lay down and let our elected official's and their wealthy business interests to evict the working class, and their families. Or we can stand together to defend the rights of those who keep this town running; the factory workers, folks in food service, construction workers, retail salespeople, local business owners, the single mothers/fathers, and their families. We need to stand up and use our voices to defend the people that our community depends on. Don't let the wealthy destroy the beautiful community that the working class created.
P.S. If you're interested in meeting other members of the community to share
ideas, a community pot-luck will be held on Saturday, May 10th at Liberty Park.
Festivities begin at 2pm, there will be live music following the feast and discussion.
Bring some food to share, a bowl and a fork (to reduce the waste caused by disposable plates and cutlery). All are welcome!