Originally, I approached my neighbors with the mentality of wanting to encourage and empower them to become more. I’ve been tried to do this is a number of ways such as: one-on-one school work with the kids, encouraging them to explore things they are curious about, validating them with not only my words, but the tone of my voice, having them teach me something (ex: teaching this white girl how to dance… and man was that hilarious)
However, if these beautiful faces at the Courtyard Apartments have shown me anything, it is that I was wrong.
(Thankfully, I tend to be wrong, so this is nothing new.)
As much as I want to empower and encourage these individuals to become more… I am realizing that they already want that for themselves.
We put on a movie in the green for the kiddies and they loved it… but they wanted more. Now they want to put on a talent show, something they can take ownership of. They want more.
It may look like the single parent next door is using her child support money to buy cigarettes… but she is the first to admit that she hates being on welfare. She wants more too.
And so, in this short time, I am realizing that it’s about more than encouragement and empowerment. The real challenge is to provide the resources so that my neighbors can become more. This neighborhood is rich in resources. There are dozens of different talents, skills, and mindsets. It is my job to acknowledge those assets and provide a place where those can be built upon.
And that’s the hard part. Because to provide them with resources is to fully trust that they will make the most out of what we give them… and that’s not always the case. But we need to start providing them with resources so that they can build upon their talents, skills and assets… and teach us something in the process.