The Pursuit Of Happiness in South Norwalk, Connecticut / #gentrification #SouthNorwalkCommunityCenter @Norwalk_CT
For a time, injustice will seem to rule the day, yet the ballast in our hearts drive us collectively to shine light into every corner and eventually unjust ways meet an end. Damage can also be done by the hearts and minds of those who look to serve themselves and their agendas over the plight of others. People like this live in heart-poverty and have narrow thinking. They even go as far as to look to enlist others in their doomed mission with persuasion, manipulation, bribery, rewards and coercion.
Of all the injustices found, one of the greatest is poverty. Poverty of the mind, of the heart and of the body. It can be inflicted on a whole mass of people and has been used repeatedly as a master weapon against people. Sir Francis Bacon, for example, said that ‘knowledge is power.’ In purposefully keeping people ignorant and disempowered you can exact subtle control, influence and power over them. You can easily divide them, search out their would-be leaders and subjugate them by neutralizing them with persuasion, manipulation, bribery, rewards and coercion. You can render a person or a people helpless by disallowing the presence of those things which would unite and empower them, thus they would go forth with independent thinking and self-advocate for what is their heritage.
In the United States of America, men and women put fortune, honor, position, title and their very lives ahead of themselves to push hard so that their families, their neighbors and the diversity of people that make up America could live in liberty. Liberty for the heart, the mind and the body.
John Adams, a loving husband, a doting father and a righteous and humble servant leader, as well as the second President of the United States of America said, “The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved…”
In South Norwalk, Connecticut, which is not to be confused with the trendy SoNo tourist district which is within it, their is a community center called the South Norwalk Community Center. For many decades it was run well by the uncle of a friend of mine. It use to have sports programs for the youth, food and furniture would pass through it and given to the low-income families and individuals surrounding it. Another friend of mine, would hold Thanksgiving dinners within it and ALL would be invited, regardless of ethnicity, social class or skin color. After three decades its manager retired and administration of it went to a group that ran it for one ethnicity (African Americans) over the others. It was soon found out that mishandling of funds (stealing) was rampant. Little by little, hope evaporated from within it. It began to lose alienate people, ethnicities and eventually, after many years, the management was forced to evacuate. Interim administrations looked to ‘hold the line’ until the current administration stepped in with great braggadocio and popular rhetoric. The current boss said it would be known as a latino center, but that all other ethnicities and races were welcome, of course. He then ran the ship completely into the ground for two years until today.
Now the ballast in the hearts and minds of people is beginning to upright awareness again, in spite of the current boss still desperately holding onto his seat. His director was replaced and a major board member has resigned. City council members and senators are distancing themselves from its current administration. They do not want to be attached to a sinking ship. Norwalk’s City Hall is on alert and are working feverishly behind the scenes to pump new money into the sinking ship.
Along with others, I am putting my safety, my own money, my time, my energy towards helping justice rule the day again. I am not working alone, but shoulder to shoulder with a growing number of souls who have had enough of what is being served. I seek no fame, nor credit, nor position.
“Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
A Freedom of Information Act request lobbed at City Hall has turned up evidences of great sums of money being afforded to the current administration of the South Norwalk Community Center that have no paper trail after it is given. The center continues to be a blight that has no sports programs, no chess, no dance, no art, no music or any basic youth programs to serve the community. There is no little league baseball team, there is no youth soccer league, there are no Thanksgiving dinners bringing hearts together. What there is is drug dealing happening in front, homeless people toting grocery carts and a great sense of impoverishment in and around the center. It is as if it is being run into the ground on purpose. Freedom of information Act evidences received are showing heated City Hall discussions by council members and the current Norwalk mayor, Mr. Harry Rilling, talking about wanting to label that area a ‘blight, a slum, and a deteriorating’ neighborhood so that ‘HUD,’ can legally give development money to ‘redevelop’ the area. Rather than empower the current people living there, redevelopment is the gentrification of South Norwalk so that it can be known as a new neighborhood and an extension of SoNo.
Big money and cronyism is not interested in rolling up its sleeves and getting to know the individuals and families that live there. Those residents live mostly at the poverty level. They have little hope of improving their lot greatly. So a place like the South Norwalk Community Center, which use to be a place that united people and gave them a sense of community is ground zero for doing theopposite. The message being sent from city hall and the redevelopment engine is, “get out of here! Don’t you see this is an eye sore?! How can you have a neighborhood with a defunct community center, drugs on the street, homelessness on most corners and rumbling construction trucks which pass by dilapidated housing? Get out of here, you people! This is no home! SoNo is coming! Hooray! We’re gonna do it better. It will be nice. Trust us. We know what we are doing!”
In one interview of a council member held in the architect firm’s office that is designing the new mall, smack in the middle of SoNo’s trendy bar area, I was told that the retail jobs of the new mall will be a source of empowerment for the community. Really?! How much does a retail job pay? And they are going to go to the impoverished neighborhood of South Norwalk (around the community center) and hire those people? Sounds like someone is selling baloney and I don’t eat baloney.
They call this progress?
What is happening is the loss of liberty. People are kept in the dark, decisions that affect them are being executed with rapid speed. Knowledge of such actions are being kept quiet. Community leaders voices who speak out are being drowned in city hall meetings by silly people who show up at the meetings and compliment council members and the mayor on insignificant things. In one instance, a husband school teacher asked to speak after several citizens, including myself spoke on issues of real substance. He simply wanted to praise his wife, a council member, and said she was the sweetest thing. Then he shut up. Each time a concerned citizen brought up an issue, another resident spoke up to compliment the mayor and the council. It was strange and obvious what was happening. This is not liberty. This is a set-up towards greasing the wheels of gentrification and towards continuing on with the plan of enlarging the tourist district beyond its borders and into the impoverished area of South Norwalk.
So is the agenda to serve those who are down or is it to serve oneself and one’s friends only at the expense of poor people? Is keeping the people of South Norwalk without knowledge the short-term goal as the redevelopment engine is kept hot and moving? Is it right that there is no actual empowerment of people, rather a hands-off approach that seeks to push them away?
All people are created equal and are at liberty to pursue happiness. But how can this be so when their community is purposefully being made to look like a blight, a slum and an eye sore?