Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Fruits of Community Organizing

OK, so I was listening to Public Radio the other day (don't ask!) and there was a story about "The Gardens" in Chicago. This is usually referred to as a neighborhood. It is in fact a housing project run by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

It is notable for two reasons.

1. The kid who was beaten to death on video in Chicago was from The Gardens. He was attacked because he was being bused 3 miles to another neighborhood to attend high school.

2. Obama worked as Community Organizer in The Gardens (officially Altgeld Gardens) when he first moved to Chicago.

Now, I didn't hear the entire thing, but one thing did jump out at me.

They interviewed a guy who was either born in the Gardens, or moved there sometime in the 40s. He had recently moved out, because he didn't want his grandchildren exposed to the violence.

Now while I always thought that public assistance was supposed to be a temporary thing, I know that in many cases it does become generational. But that isn't really what hit me.

When asked what he would tell President Obama the residents of the Gardens needed, (the story had covered everything from high schools to after school programs) he said "health care."

Wouldn't someone who qualified for public housing already qualify for Medicaid? Just asking.

So after decades of community organizing in Chicago, exactly what communities are better off, and how?

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