We moved. For the last few years my husband and I have been working on a master plan to sell our house and relocate to an urban neighborhood. A neighborhood that is on the cusp of the poorest part of our city. Intentionally moving from a house less than a mile from our local country club, with the best schools, beautiful homes and well manicured lawns. We made a decision to move from a neighborhood that’s desired by many. Doesn’t make much sense, right? Why would we do such a thing?
I could tell you that the new house is in a great neighborhood, full of historic homes. (We love big old houses.) I might add that we are excited to be a small part of a revitalization of our downtown. I could mention that we know lots of the people who are part of the neighborhood association who live there, and we like how they think and what they do. But really those are not the reasons we moved.
The answer is simple, we moved because of Community.
We love community. We feel at home with people. We thrive in the tension of unfamiliar settings. We want to move from the back yard to the front porch. We want our children raised in a diverse socioeconomic environment. We want to breathe life into the old victorian home and restore its beauty.
Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Well we moved and it’s not. It is really hard. I’ve second-guessed our decision daily the last month for reasons I didn’t anticipate. Reasons that make me think about the statement, “There’s No Place Like Home”.
This place is full of people being neighbors. Walking around and stopping by unannounced. Emails for dessert parties and neighborhood clean-up days. Calls to offer help with yard work and play date requests with the kids.
This place has poverty in our face. Police cruisers frequent the streets. Litter in our yard. Houses with tarps on the windows. Unfamiliar noises in the middle of the night.
As I reflect, I see that this new journey gives me the opportunity to better understand that community isn’t a place at all.
It’s a way of living.
It’s a long process.
It’s courageous people.
It’s a platform for change.
Everyday, I get the privilege of helping individuals and institutions work on comprehensive solutions to holistic poverty alleviation. I develop and lead trainings that help folks shift their view of poverty. I know this stuff. I understand the power of relationships and the realities of our broken system.
As our family enters into this new space of community, I recognize that I have my own isolation. Isolation is a destructive comfort, that can be difficult to recognize. In our own way, we are all isolated.
I know I have more to learn and share, as my layers of isolation thaw, in this new community we now call home.
Heather Cunningham, Training Director, Think Tank, Inc.
To learn more about Heather’s work, please visit thinktank-inc.org