What Makes a Neighborhood Sustainable?

There are a lot of reasons and ideas about what makes a neighborhood sustainable. Amenities – grocery stores, retail shops, good schools, entertainment venues and places of faith. Bike paths, parks, public safety, neighborhood associations, coffee shops, good government and even free lunches. Many of the things just mentioned can make a neighborhood a great place to live but do they make them sustainable?

If that is true then that means that all of those things have to be in place all of the time. That means that things don’t change but based on my own experience change is the only constant in these urban neighborhoods. New highways spring up all of the time, sometimes cutting neighborhoods in half, dividing communities and separating neighbors. Strip malls spring up hoping to lure highway traffic but they often take business away from neighborhood stores or become a rotating assortment of failed storefronts. So new construction isn’t always the answer.

As convenient as these resources can be for some they may have little to do with the sustainability of a neighborhood. What makes a neighborhood great is it’s human resources – you know – people. It’s the people that live there that make the difference. Creating a place where they can raise a family – feel part of something greater then themselves. A place where they can meet friends, talk about their cultures and traditions – a place where they can share and feel welcomed.

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Its not new construction that always brings these opportunities and its not just churches or tarvens where neighbors can get to know one another and find fellowship. It can happen anyplace where two people are gathered right? It can happen at playgrounds, it can happen in community gardens, or doing projects together like cleaning alleys, or working with neighborhood youth – it can happen on front porches.

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These urban neighborhoods aren’t always what they seem, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, most have a lot to offer – in Human Power!  Neighbor’s that meet, talk, walk together, play and celebrate together create an environment that promotes fellowship. Creates a sense of FAMILY – a place where people want to be, a place to meet new friends, a place to share and to learn from one another. Neighborhoods can be whatever the people that live there want them to be. Neighborhoods, governments, churches and youth organizations that commit to their people survive – they last – they sustain.

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