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Good Neighborhood Solutions for 2011

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“Buy your newspaper here!”

“Read all about it!

“Hi Neighbor!”

Nobody talks like that anymore! No newspapers appear on the steps of your house or apartment, trailer, or apartment. No neighbors, newspaper in hand, appear on the sidewalk, off to work. The street and the house/rooms where you live are empty from 6 am to 6 pm. Did you know neighborhoods are meant to signal a family’s success, hard times, or poverty or wealth? Big empty houses? Small empty houses? Now, neighborhoods are more and more silent, unappealing and day-time deserted.

Is this normal now? Well not exactly. We genetically form into groups because we are engineered to socially need others. We are human beings whose behavior is based on the instinctive drive to attach, to survive as a demanding infant and to flourish in childhood and adulthood by learning to love.

Try saying “Gotta hurry, I’m off to the neighborhood” when leaving work. ….or.” See you tomorrow; my neighborhood is a mess and I have to stop by the store.” Or this one, “I have to rush to the neighborhood, instead of “I have to rush home”…..

There are homes, apartment buildings, tents, barracks, but neighborhoods? We avoid them and it is hurting parental child-rearing, social skills, and the ability to bring up infants, children and especially youth! Especially youth!

We are people leaving “Hoods” for sports, plays, music halls, playgrounds, pools, gyms, stores, cars, trips and restaurants; we don’t stay in places, and neighborhoods seem to thrive on victimization, child-stealing, murder, robbery, or maybe a tragedy thankfully averted, it is depressing.

It is time to reverse directions and imagine newspapers’ coverage around good news. I once was part of 2 neighborhoods starting a day care center and another one forming a food bank in a church. That is good news! I see community planners start a long-day school in a large neighborhood to improve the grades of kids with no parents at home….it was open to convince kids they were as smart as anybody! Another home neighborhood environment project was started by parents to speed up language skills, social skills, and teach decency, from one family to another!

The families went all through the neighborhood and found forty pupils, preaching that normal growth and development increases when a family lives near good role models, so youth and young teens also helped at the school. The research that shows this works comes from two philosophically different spectrums.

First, Head Start, with a record of fifty years of delivering health care, hiring low income parents, studying effects of quality education, special education, and parent involvement, has become a highly successful point of entry that helps reduce neglect and abuse and sends families upward from the poorest families to the lifestyle and neighborhoods of the middle classes.

Second, Statistics by the Dept of Labor, HUD indicate neighborhood trends improve housing trends: a steady move toward “do-it-yourself” home improvements and an increasing number of free clinics, 24-hour shelters and section eight housing. 

Ask Dr. Susan