Gentrification vs. Immersion

Are we opportunistic for our own gain or are we using our opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others?

There's been a meme floating around social media for some time. It reads,

“When you have more than you need, build a bigger table not a bigger fence.”

There's a serious danger when it comes to neighborhood revitalization efforts, for outsiders to come in with plans and handouts, with the expectation that great things can/will happen.

Hope is an inherently good value. The deciding factor that shifts hope from positive to negative is formed by the things we choose to put our hope in.

We’ve been taught to hope in/for the American dream. I believe we are living in a time where the formative generation is beginning to distrust that this dream is imperative. Many people I come across seem to simply exist and go through the motions as if they are living out another person’s dream for their life. We’ve been taught to set ourselves up for comfort. To gather as much as we can so we can rest easier as time presses on.

The quote above is so widely spread because it hits us at an honest crossroads. We are realizing the dream that was dreamt up for us by our predecessors was incomplete. There is a deep longing to share what we have within community. Be they our thoughts, goods, time, and so on, we want other people to share in that.

My point is, as we continue to grow in this dope Ohio City/Tremont sub-city of Cleveland, we have to reprioritize the “fruits of opportunity” that brought us here. The temptation with gentrification is to assume that our presence in a community is an automatic blessing, and our renovation equals a community's revitalization. We hope the things we give back to a community which appears to have less, materialistically speaking, is a job well done. Gentrification seeks to conform the culture of society to itself.

Digging a little deeper I might say, when you are on the winning side of the struggle, will you continue to fight for yourself or will you begin to fight for the victory of others?

Gentrification will only further the divide. It creates a harsh contrast. A juxtaposition. To be present in the city and not be one of, strengthens the positions of “have and have not.” Immersion on the other hand dissolves the line. Immersion says, “We are people who have much to learn from each other. You are inherently valuable and worth getting to know.”

What we need to do is get to know people. What we need to do is build our table, and instead of using it as a platform for hand outs, use it as a platform for relationship with our neighbors. Relationship provides us with the opportunity to learn, discover, and, if we are so blessed, to teach on occasion. When we learn and understand the hopes and dreams of our neighbors, we will be in a better position to look out for their well-being. Same as we would want anyone to be a good neighbor and look out for us. It’s the art of immersion. The art of becoming, not just one of, but one.

Personally, my faith pushes me to oneness. Though, it doesn’t take much digging to realize that racism, classism, sexism, or just a general lack of unity takes a crushing toll on the heart of society.

Let’s figure out how to use our time, our talents, and our treasures to assist in the togetherness of our small pocket of Cleveland.

So. Who’s wellbeing are you working for, other than your own?

Ron Kent II

I am a pastor of Cleveland. I love all people. Every class, race, color, socioeconomic status i love us all. I love justice. I love my wife. I want to see peace and unity overwhelm the city. I want to see justice for the marginalized. Leadership held accountable. I want to see everyone grow becasue everyone has inherent value as a human. 

I love learning. I love writing and making music and art to try and make it all happen. 

Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 9:07 AM, 02.17.2016