Harnessing Gentrification for the Sake of the Kingdom
The definitive works have yet to be written on how to harness gentrification for the purposes of the Kingdom. However, a few guiding principles are rising to the surface from some of the best practices around the country. Here are just a few:
Gentrification is. Some rail against it; others laud its arrival. For good or ill, it is our new reality. And it will only increase in the years to come. It means welcome new economic and social life for our cities and, with the pro-active involvement of the saints, can introduce a whole new era of hopefulness for the poor. Our mantra must be: gentrification with justice.
Diversity is a gift. Communities that are economically and racially mixed can be the richest of environments for families as well as singles and older adults. Diverse community is Godâ€™s plan, the final destination toward which all the righteous are heading â€“ the City of our God where people of every tribe, every nation, every tongue will take up eternal residence.
Community doesnâ€™t just happen. Especially diverse community. It must be built. Focused and sustained effort must be invested in getting to know neighbors, organizing community activities, modeling neighborliness and communicating good news. Love of neighbor must be practical and visible over time.
Indigenous neighbors are a treasure. It is easy to ignore seniors, easy to push on past less communicative neighbors, easy to exclude those who donâ€™t show up at community functions. But the rich history of the neighborhood is imbedded in the lives and family albums of long term residents. The effort to extract and honor this history is well worth the time and effort. And everyone, no matter how unlikely, has some valuable talent to contribute to the life of the community.
Economic viability is essential. A community will not be healthy unless it has ample neighbors with discretionary income to attract and sustain businesses. The gentry are essential. However, justice demands that we ensure that the poor are embraced and included as beneficiaries in a healthy community.
Godâ€™s shalom must be worked at. The roles of peacemakers, communicators, gatherers, organizers, connectors are some of the most vital talents needed for the establishment of â€œpeace and prosperityâ€ and a prevailing sense of well-being that God desires for His creation. Shalom is not merely the absence of crime on the street, it is the prevailing presence of peace and goodness in the relationships of Godâ€™s diverse family. It is achieved only by intentional effort.
This is Part 6 of a 6-part series on community development, justice and gentrification by Bob Lupton.Â
Bob Lupton has invested almost 40 years of his life in inner-city Atlanta. In response to a call that he first felt while serving in Vietnam, he left a budding business career to work with delinquent urban youth. Bob and his wife Peggy and their two sons sold their suburban home and moved into the inner-city where they have lived and served as neighbors among those in need. Their lifeâ€™s work has been the rebuilding of urban neighborhoods where families can flourish and children can grow into healthy adults.
Bob is a Christian community developer, an entrepreneur who brings together communities of resource with communities of need. Through FCS Urban Ministries â€“ a non-profit organization which he founded â€“ he has developed two mixed income subdivisions, organized a multi-racial congregation, started a number of businesses, created housing for hundreds of families and initiated a wide range of human services in his community. He is the author of the books Theirs in the Kingdom, Return Flight, Renewing the City, Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life and the widely circulated â€œUrban Perspectivesâ€, monthly reflections on the Gospel and the poor. Bob has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Georgia. He serves as speaker, strategist, and inspirer with those throughout the nation who seek to establish Godâ€™s Shalom in the city.
The original article can be foundÂ hereÂ at byFaithOnline, the Web Magazine of the PCA.