America is experiencing a problem with blighted neighborhoods across the country, and poor and lower-middle class communities are the most seriously affected.
Throughout history, we have seen stark examples of the haves and the have-nots in communities. We have seen areas that were once popular and booming in decline, having been destroyed by lack of investments and other factors.
As a young boy, I visited my grandfather in Moffett, Oklahoma, and I loved the small-town feel. The families knew one another, the residents waved at you when you drove by, and it was just a good place to be. The townspeople were not wealthy town at all. Some would be considered poor, but they had a sense of pride in their community.
As America tries to dig itself out of its current financial difficulties, cities could refocus on the small-town feel when deciding how to deal with the blighted neighborhoods. A focus on entrepreneurship, partnerships, and development in these areas could be the key to a resurgence of vibrant communities. These areas need affordable and safe housing, small grocery stores, community partners for job training, local retail, entertainment centers for children and adults, water parks, walkable spaces, eating establishments, and more investment in education. The small-town ambiance of a neighborhood can be saved if you save the people who live there.
The children are valuable resources that require attention and sacrifice to ensure they become the best they can be. The trauma of generational poverty could hinder a community for years to come. A program that encourages development of existing homes in the blighted area, so they may be fixed and available for sale or rent to residents, is one step in the journey to a better life for so many Americans.
Jobs with wages and advancement opportunity are paramount in the recovery of a forgotten side of town. Cities with higher poverty levels could pour resources into the nearby communities to help. The city government should create semi-permanent office space to show it is willing to invest and be a partner with the blighted community.
The communities I have visited where businesses and houses are boarded up reveal the devastating conditions some Americans live with. These Americans deserve better; they want something better, and it is our generation's opportunity to do better. The more we invest in small, disenfranchised areas, the better our communities can become. We are only as good as our most impoverished community in our town.
Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co. He is also an author, his first book being "The Absent Father."