Wednesday, September 18, 2013

McFerrin Park Has Always Been Home

Communities are often defined by geographical boundaries and socioeconomic factors such as education and profession. In re-gentrifiying communities such as McFerrin Park certain folks tend to highlight the distinction between “the haves and the have nots”. Leading one to believe that there is no history and or relevance of the community neighborhood that is not shaped by White DINKs (dual income, no kids) and real estate investors. However, if you take a closer look (and listen) to the experiences of the diverse residents in McFerrin Park you will learn about real people with histories, some distinct and others quite familiar. Before there was an interest in Saving the Roxy Theater, there were Black parents that walked their children to and from the neighborhood schools. There were Black male coaches with booming voices directing young boys in the fundamentals of football. There were children inundating McFerrin Park Community Center for pro-social activities and outings. Working parents picked up infants from the child care center at Salvation Army’s Magness Potter Center while teens crowded the same building for leadership opportunities and help with homework and senior citizens gathered in a safe space. There were immigrant and refugee families learning new cultural norms while preserving their own. There were foster parents and halfway homes that provided some type of permanence for those in need. And always, there have been grandparents and elders on front porches with a knowing eye for “who belongs around here” and “who is here to cause trouble”. McFerrin Park is a community neighborhood of working, non-working and retired people, native born and transplants from other cities, artists and stay at home parents, social workers and entrepreneurs. It is a community neighborhood whose residents are inclusive and cautious and hopeful. Hopeful that as the property values increase, the real value of McFerrin Park will remain in its racially and economically diverse people and their willingness to appreciate that all of us do not share the same story but all of our stories are worth telling and documenting. McFerrin Park has always been home.

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