Direction in an Age of Confusion
20 Years of Prophecy Fulfilled
Chapter 3 (F)
Life as we know it?
In the early 1990’s, if people remember, there was a major downturn in the economy, nationwide.
“The economy displays less volatility in growth, unemployment, and inflation than in previous decades.”
“This volatility leads some economists to prematurely hail the end of the business cycle.”
“The unemployment rate declines, reaching a 30-year low of 3.9 percent in early 2000.”
“Inflation averages 2.5 percent annually, compared with 5 percent in the 1980s and more than 6 percent in the 1970s.”
“The stock market yields more than 25 percent annually in the last half of the decade and supports consumer spending.”
“The 1990s is the longest bull market in history.”
“Investors believe that the market and the economy have entered a new age, which is attributed to advances in technology.”
“NASDAQ experiences a 795 percent cumulative 10-year return.”
“Growth is driven by increases in labor productivity, which is fueled by information and communications technology.”
“In the mid-1980s, 18 percent of U.S. adults use a computer.”
“In the mid-1990s, 50 percent use a computer.”
“People and businesses around the world communicate by email and cellular phones.”
“The Internet will change the face of banking and commerce.”
“The S&L crisis that began in the early 1980s ends in the mid-1990s.”
“The result is 1,600 Bank failures and 1,300 Savings & Loan failures.”
1990’s for me:
I was living in Baltimore, Maryland, and employed as adjunct faculty for several Maryland Community Colleges. Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Catonsville, Montgomery, Prince Georges, to name a few. The classes I taught were real estate, urban community re- development & revitalization, planned unit developments, investment & finance, and a focus on the “dis-enfranchised” and “impoverished” inner city communities.
For myself, I purchased a home within the Baltimore City limits, a historic turn of the century origin, community known as ‘Hunting Ridge’. Hunting Ridge had beautiful tree-lined streets, and bordering Leakin Park, on the nations’ largest city parks. Nearby Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, several churches and temples within the overall community radius, shopping center, and quick route within 20 minutes of downtown Inner Harbor. Over 500 households, were (are) located in that community area, bordering several others such as Ten Hills, Edmondson Heights, and encompassing a wide varied population of people, ages, cultures, and life-styles.
When I moved in, knowing that its property taxes were excessively high, and the City had allowed the area infrastructure deteriorate, sidewalks, sewers, water lines, alley/driveways, were creating a ‘move-out’ to the suburban and rural areas. My house was more than reasonably priced considering its size, stained glass windows, wide front portico porch, two stories, of interior beautiful wood floors, extras built in 1928.
The basement was originally a ‘candy shop’ owned by a German family living upstairs, their fudge was famous city-wide, and sold from the side door of the driveway shop entrance. The gray & white marble slabs for the fudge making on wide 4 foot deep built-in counters were my computer desktop and workstation when I lived there.
As a new resident, I attended the Hunting Ridge (Community Association) meeting that had dwindled from over 400 households involved in its ‘every day community affairs’ to less than 10 members representing as board and committee members for almost four years. As I waited for the meeting to start, in the lower level of the Methodist Church a few yards beyond my house, was warmly welcomed by all.
An hour later, fully aware of the creeping erosion of that community, the sadness, grief, and loss of quality of life that was taking over the community, the neighborhood, and well beyond. The remaining few ‘committed’ residents would not give up on their homes, or their friends and neighbors, by relocating. Elderly still in the homes for more than fifty years, would not leave. New young residents with small children, wanted to be ‘walking distance’ to the schools.
However, the car dealership bordering the Rt 40 Edmondson Avenue, closed, building torn down rubbage, infested now with rats, drug needles, dealers and prostitutes began to gather at the fringes. The pathways between our homes, where the school children took the shorter way, rather than the safer way around the bordering sidewalks, were littered with broken wine, beer, liquor bottles, more needles, garbage and worse. Nearby, Leakin Park was beginning to be ‘dead body central’, and lurking predators within its leafy green-scape.
My home was a financial investment, but more than that, it meant community investment in PEOPLE.
I could have bailed out, gone somewhere else to live, but I didn’t – I liked my neighbors, made new friends, married my husband (an urban planner), and we stayed there. My teaching in the colleges, gained new significance, re-building inner cities, reaching out to the impoverished, even in a class teaching one day at Baltimore City Community College, I received a visit from Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s representative ‘Viola” requesting help from me.
Could I could assist them with creating a homeless services program funded with HUD monies to the Mayors’ Office of Homeless Services, that would aid in housing thousands of Baltimore’ residents, during an economic crisis of unfathomable scope in 1993? Yes, I could. Not only I, but the community that I lived in, would help, model, reach out, organize and prove that communities could work together, ‘together we can’, did… for a while.
We collaborated, we shared resources, gained volunteers, cleaned up not only our community, but created a coalition of neighborhoods, new paved streets, walkways, cleaned up the school, lowered truancy, added Citizen’s on Patrol, Crime Watch to assist police presence, cleaned up the park and ousted the drug dealers, built a grocery store and shopping on the abandoned car lot, and made safety first, the priority.
When we got down to the Southwest District of Baltimore, near the harbor, something changed. It didn’t just happen in Baltimore; it happened in major inner cities all over the country. It began in 1998, and hasn’t stopped, and I know why. When I left Baltimore in 2008, it wasn’t because I wanted to leave, I was still in the inner city trying to serve in missions, education, employment and housing for inner city dis-enfranchised youth and families…but that’s another story for another blog-- or book someday ‘Moving Heaven and Earth’.
For my syllabus study guidelines:
Structure: 1) Areas of Change, 2) Basis, 3) Methods of Change, and 4) Intended Results
A Republic & Constitutional Purpose
· Pursuit of Happiness
· Justice &
Method of Change:
• States are encouraged to be enjoin in their own special party interests in Legislatures ,
• Re-districting to increase electoral votes,
• Influence elections,
• Hire lobbyists,
• Re- appropriate tax funds, and
• Even support legislation that opposes national Constitutional and Federal law,
• To--receive more federal funding
• Escalating the federal budget deficit and or
• Raising individual taxes federal and state,
• Minimizing local community funds so that
• Eco-Social issues become power issues
• Promoting cultural, racial, gender, age, and differences are
• Commercially & Politically prosperous
Less Empowered Citizens
· Low & Middle Income Citizens in their cities, towns or counties feel exploited
· Net income is reduced
· Housing, taxes, law enforcement, education, infrastructure, small businesses, social benefits are not available for their children
· Disparities increase with senior citizens and
· The disabled, mentally ill, or other dis-enfranchised populations are hit hardest and
· Losing their opportunity and rights to Life, Liberty, Happiness, Equality or Justice –
· Prudence (and Juris-Prudence) are not evident in their daily lives
· Welfare fails
Now, it is time to decide your answers to these questions:
What was your life like twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Five?
Is your life better or worse? Quality of life, peace, stability, health, in what ways….
Is society and community around you is as a whole, better or worse?
If your life and the lives of your children or family, in the future is to be determined by your decisions and actions of ‘today’, --what are you going to change? Or do?
Because.. it doesn’t have to be this way…
We can get back to the ‘Life Skills’ Basics….