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Front Page » Table of Contents » Towns & Communities

By Larry James on January 25, 2010

After hearing Colum McCann interviewed over the Christmas break, I put his latest novel, Let the Great World Spin: A Novel, on my "must read soon" list.

The book is about life in urban America.

Listen to an interview with him by clicking here.

By Larry James on October 22, 2009

"This is the most amazing statement I believe you have ever made. Have you ever seen residents of a poor neighborhood make an annual trip to a suburb of perhaps $200,000 houses for a drive to 'clean up' the community? I never have. On the other hand it is an annual event to go to a poor neighborhood and make a 'clean sweep' of junk and old tires, old appliances tossed out the backdoor, etc. It takes dozens of people all day to do this, even serving lunch. So no, one will not find junk on the property of nicer neighborhoods at the same rate."
The statement above was posted as a comment in response to something I had written here not long ago about property values and urban redevelopment. The comment comes from a regular reader who seldom, if ever, agrees with me.

My daughter, Joanna, had an interesting comment about the statement.

Read more of this post here ...

By Kelly Jacobsen on June 25, 2009

The following is part one in a series reviewing my favorite things to see, do, eat, and hear in Washington DC.

The Flea Market at Eastern Market (Saturday and Sunday)

Favorite steals: Sunflowers that make this Kansans proud ($8 for one bouquet); Transfat free – supposedly- mini donuts (7 for $2); Assorted, unique greeting cards ($1 - $1.50/each or buy five, get one free)

Simply out of sheer luck, I happened to move into a fantastic rowhouse in the city’s historic Eastern Market neighborhood. While I love the colorful flowerbeds and brick sidewalks, my absolute favorite part about this neighborhood is the Flea Market on every Saturday and Sunday.

From Pennsylvania to Independence, 7th street SE is transformed into a community hub for DC’s young and old. Vendors selling produce, clothing, jewelry, flowers, and more provide their products are excellent prices and one can rest assured knowing they are doing their part to support the locals.

The outdoor portion of the market is only on the weekends, but starting this Friday, the indoor daily market will be reopening after a fire damaged much of the facility in 2007. DC is abuzz about the return and shoppers will be able get fresh meat, seafood, pastries, and produce six days a week (closed Mondays) in the newly air-conditioned building.

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on June 22, 2009

The Congo Street Green Initiative is an amazing project. Central Dallas Ministries has been fortunate to be involved by providing AmeriCorps members to support the effort. Brent Brown is a genius when it comes to architecture, education and community renewal.

I'll let the story speak for itself!

By Jennifer Schwaller on June 4, 2008

Shot in 1972 on location in Seattle, Cinderella Liberty is one of my favorite movies. Starring James Caan and Marsha Mason (who won an Oscar for her performance), the title comes from a Navy term for a shore pass which ends at midnight. I highly recommend this film. Rent it if you have time.

The reason why I enjoy Cinderella Liberty is that it’s not only a good story, it shows Seattle at the height of its blue collar, working class, Navy best. It shows the Seattle of Old – pawnshops and bars lining First Avenue, flophouses along the waterfront and the famous Green Parrot Club. Even the Sandpoint Navy base is intact in this movie, when it was hustling and hustling instead of crumbling. It also shows some Seattle of What’s Left – the bus station, the Seattle Center Ferris wheel, a section of Pike Place Market, and the skyline as viewed from the Bainbridge Ferry.

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on October 27, 2007

We work in neighborhoods where people face all sorts of difficulties, places where bad problems abound, where life is not very good.

At the same time, in every case, no matter what, we also find amazing people who possess enormous amounts of social capital. In the worst places and situations we discover that people are good and that hope abounds.

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on October 20, 2007

I've been to Jena, Louisiana.

Actually, I don't remember ever really going there, but I've been there in my experience of how white folks work out their racism.

We must not be fooled. Race and racism continue to play large roles in the social and cultural life of the nation. And, much of what is still alive and well in our communities is ugly, hate-filled and utterly absurd.

The story of the "Jena 6" remind me of my experiences forty years ago when I was in high school and college. The situation facing these six young men bring back memories of my first church in Shreveport, Louisiana, where racism was not only alive and well, but honored in the community and in my church.

Read more of this post here ...

By Pamela Jean on August 30, 2007

Two years ago this week, life changed completely for the people of New Orleans. Like Zola, I still grieve in the aftermath of our failure to provide timely and adequate aid to Katrina's survivors. Feeling very reluctant to allow this week to pass without giving proper focus on New Orleans, I decided that each day this coming week, I'll find ways to honor New Orleanians here.

Today, I'm writing a little bit about folks getting around in style and storm-torn kids finding some reasons to smile. Go on, turn the page, you'll be glad you did!

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on August 17, 2007

Taking people seriously - whether as powerful, asset-laden members of a community of interest or as partners aligned to affect needed change - is the essential first step in any blueprint for community development. Community development is all about people and how we regard them.

Once we come to regard "the poor" as valued participants in the process, our overall perspective changes in a radical way.

When we regard our own assets and resources as gifts placed at our disposal only to be shared and combined with the gifts and the wealth of others, our ability to act in a brand new and amazingly creative fashion kicks in, to the surprise of everyone involved.

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on August 2, 2007

One of the enjoyable aspects of my work is that I get to talk to people about urban issues and urban community development. I especially like the times I get to speak with students in university settings. Talking to students forces a clarity and a sharpness that otherwise would allude me.

Over time I have developed a handful of ideas that I consider fundamental to nurturing community development in a social context dominated by poverty and its unique problems.

This feels like an appropriate space to discuss some of these essential notions.

Read more of this post here ...

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