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Neighborhoods

two young kids reading a book
Thomas Life / Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7SpXkV

What was your favorite book as a kid?

For me, it was Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. I’d take it with me to school, to sleepovers, to the park. I read it so many times that I can still recite some of the poems by heart. 

But for poor children, books aren’t so easy to come by.

Bill Hickey in his garden
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

When you’re in your house, what do you see when you look out your front window? Maybe a big maple tree, a mailbox, your neighbor’s house across the street and the house next to them.

Cindy Dorman wishes that's what she saw when she looked out her front window. But instead she sees a whole lot of blight. "Twenty-one abandoned houses" within a one-block radius of her house, to be exact.

 

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

On an industrial block on Detroit's east side, there's a big, black building that sits along a stretch of warehouses. The front of the building is covered in glass windows. A banner sprawled across screams: "Welcome to Downtown Boxing Gym!"

The building is home to the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program. The afterschool program was started by Khali Sweeney in 2007.

dilapidated house
Paul Sableman / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Here at State of Opportunity, we've been talking a lot lately about how your neighborhood can shape the person you become.

Researchers have narrowed down the impact of neighborhoods to factors as specific as the city block where you live.

What determines how long we live? Is it our lifestyle choices?

What we eat. Whether we exercise. If we go to the doctor regularly. Whether we smoke or use drugs.

Tires litter the lawn in front of an abandoned house on Detroit's west side
Andrea Claire Maio / Apiary Projects

I went to a workshop last month called "Why in the D?," which was put on by students at Cody’s Academy of Public Leadership. The point of the day was not to talk about schools; it was to talk about something much closer to home: where they live and the outsize role their neighborhoods have on their lives. 

Apartment building
Paul Sableman / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Obama administration proposed new rules last week that would help poor families afford to live in more expensive neighborhoods.

Jalin, Valencia and Irmitha Pitchford in front of their new home in Wyandotte.
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

For a long time, parents were seen as the key factor to a child’s success, and longtime State of Opportunity listeners know there are a number of things parents can do to help their children get ahead. But even the most well-intentioned parent will tell you: It's hard to parent when you live in a neighborhood that's not safe.

 

neighborhood
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Can where you live affect how successful you'll be? Though evidence is limited, studies suggest the answer is yes.

Song of the Sea on the "big screen" at the Play House
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

It’s been decades since Mr. Rogers invited us to be his neighbor.

 

 

All were welcomed – rich, poor, black, white, immigrant. But today the reality is neighborhoods are much more segregated and homogenous. There are, of course, exceptions. As part of our year-long look at neighborhoods and their impacts, we'll be spending time in a diverse neighborhood on the border of Hamtramck and Detroit that's actively working to integrate.

 

 


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