By Jonathan Ray
Special to Frost Illustrated
It’s all too easy to talk about the struggles of America’s inner cities and become fixated on symptoms like crime and violence, but how do you actually address these issues? Step one is looking at the problem holistically.
The Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”—meaning we will always have disappointments but we must hold on to the idea that we shall overcome. Hope is the one key ingredient to successful urban renewal. I don’t think people are violent—I think circumstances create people who act violently. Unless we deal with the root cause, we can arrest all of the known quote “bad guys” but the system without change will create a new set of bad actors.
A holistic approach is necessary. Planners must work in an interdisciplinary fashion including the community. We must accept the fact that diverse populations understand their own needs and can offer significant contributions to the planning process. Therefore, true collaboration is imperative for short term and sustained success in building a healthy city. Looking at community violence without considering issues like poverty, unemployment, mental health, education and other ills that plague urban inner cities is tantamount to a dog chasing his tail.
Community collaboration is necessary. We need your input, your energy and your commitment to change. We can create a movement that can’t be ignored. Our next community meeting is scheduled to take place 6 p.m., April 12 at Primetime community center 3701 S. Calhoun St. Fort Wayne Indiana. Please commit to being part of the change. We can save our city—but it will take a village.
Jonathan C. Ray, M.S.W., is president and CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League.