A Bar, A Park, and a Neighborhood
What does Broadway think? What do I think? Those are the questions that have been asked of me lately as the pastor of Broadway UMC. People want to know about what Broadway thinks about the bar that is coming in to the Julia Carson building. And I've been frustrated that people ask me this question. Why am I frustrated? Because of all the things happening around our neighborhood this is probably the very least of all the concerns.
Here's my question: If the bar is a bad investment in this neighborhood -- where are the people proclaiming/working toward/making happen an alternative? It is only the chorus of "no's" that rain down on this effort. Less than a block away from the Julia Carson Center there stands a big empty lot - a huge empty lot at the northeast corner of Central and Fall Creek. It has been empty for the over 20 years I have known this community. Economic development efforts have been talked about but nobody has actually accomplished anything. Right behind the Julia Carson building at the Northwest corner of 28th and Central there is an abandoned storefront. I haven't seen any moves to do anything about that. It just sits there empty.
At the neighborhood association meeting last week television camera crews showed up to film what that group would have to say about it. I thought back to the summer when the Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation held a celebration of the young people who graduated from high school this year who live in the neighborhood. One of the Colts was the Master of Ceremonies, the head of the 21st Century Scholars Program from the state was there, so were persons who are giving scholarships to young people graduating from the neighborhood. But did any television cameras show up for that? No.
We have learned over the past 9 months that our neighborhood is full of incredible entrepreneurs like Joe King who started a Hunting & Fishing Club (a first class operation) that seeks to work with the young people of our neighborhood (their neighborhood, too). We have learned that their are gardeners in nearly every other household. We have learned that there are talented artists, poets, and musicians. We have learned that there are people with positions of authority who live within our neighborhood. We have learned that there are people who really care about young people in our neighborhood.
Not one of those people did I see out there leading the fight against the bar. They were too busy doing their good work to pay attention to something that they knew would end up not having a very big, if any, effect on what they are doing. But it is disappointing when all the energy, all the goodness, all the gifts, all the spirit and hope that is alive in a place is ignored so that the politicians can play war with each other in the public eye.
The election season seems more and more like the WWF everytime I look around. A lot of body slamming and choreographed moves. No one gets hurt. People pay a lot of money. And, in the end, people's eyesight and attention is drawn away from the joy and music and beauty that is all around us. It is a challenge to think about how to amplify the sound of the singing that is the beauty of our community. We'll keep working on that. But it's time like these that seem to sap a bit of my energy at least.