411 Focus

In truth, the people who lived in this neighborhood then, came from the same roots as those who live here now

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Roots: Hidden or exposed

Our roots go “way back,” past the Native Americans, stretching as far as the Nile. They have tangled in Mississippi, Harlem, California, Jamaica... We share ancestry with England, Bethlehem, Poland…

Over the course of centuries, we have become who we are, with much of the “becoming,” especially for the current population, a product of ourselves. We are, plus or minus, who we choose to be.

That was the reality of my neighborhood. No matter where each of us started, we ended up on the east side of one block and the west of another, facing each other; and for my side of the block, the term “neighbor” included those whose garages opened onto a shared alley. We were our “brother’s keepers,” sharing values passed down from years ago and miles away, just as we shared shovels and rakes and other things that kept “neighbor” in“neighborhood.”

We took ownership of this space; and so, with no word spoken, back doors opened, and feet covered with old shoes made their way to garages. Nature’s naptime was over, and before us lay the task of setting the neighborhood upright again. And so we began cleaning the ugly, camouflaged by soft flakes sifted down from heaven while all slept.

That’s the way I like to remember my early years in this place I call home. In truth, the people who lived in this neighborhood then, came from the same roots as those who live here now. If you were to trace each person’s ancestry, you’d find shared roots.

Yet, there is such a difference, not just a matter of a few years. Mysteries of years past have been revealed; yet it seems just the opposite. With all the knowledge systematically hidden away from groups of people, one would think that this “opening” would draw people like broke kids to the “hole in the fence” at a baseball game.

One would think that people would be “craning their necks” to see how to upgrade the space where they live by caring for greenery which provides oxygen, and therefore benefits our health; properly disposing of things that pollute even when buried in the belly of the earth that they not endanger living things, including ourselves and our offspring, born and unborn; and doing what is necessary to make our neighborhoods as attractive, safe, and stress free as possible.

One would think that everyone who shares this space on a larger level would do all that is necessary to lift up every space. This includes people who, like me, have stopped their cars to pick up a McDonald’s bag tossed out the window as the occupants took the curve and headed back to their jobs, homes, or somewhere else; or added a discarded bottle or can to their recycle bin, a financial benefit to the city.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why those employees whose job it is to collect trash cannot do what I – and others – do as citizens… but, in fact, discourage residents’ participation! My trash can sits outside the back fence inside an “L-space,” purposely to guard against its rolling into the alley. Time after time I have watched workers pick up piles of trash – including recyclables – from around another’s can, yet leave mine exposed to wind and traffic. Last night, the wind took it into the alley where, had I not been home, it could easily have been destroyed – an expense to the city, or inconvenience to drivers.

Trace your roots. You don’t need to do the “ancestry.com” thing… just a short distance, just far enough to where you can read a 5-letter word popular in the 60s: PRIDE. That is key. In memory of those who made such strides, revisit that word, that feeling… else ours is a plight to be pitied!

Story Posted:01/12/2018

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