I’ve lived in a number of different places, and currently reside in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: Latrobe, PA. Like so many towns in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, it sprang up because of industry and railroad access, flourished for awhile, and then became depressed. Now it has some new businesses set in among old business in between lots of shuttered stores.
I see people all the time on the walking path who seem to be good parents or good pet owners or reasonable people who are exercising to improve themselves. At the same time, there’s a population of people who need to walk to the Dollar General because they have no transportation and live in a food desert. A local bodega has the alleged reputation of not paying its employees. And a casual walk off the path may find the occasional drug paraphernalia abandoned on a sidewalk.
I think the way forward for improvement would be to bring people together. Of course there are churches and occasional street festivals and high school sporting events, but we need some sort of arts organization to galvanize the creative impulses of the community. Let them see like-minded others and then view people outside their friend/work/church groups as real people.
How to accomplish that? Still working on opening that new theatre/ performance group with an eye toward economic redevelopment. Stay tuned!