Project: Projects

Read this article yesterday in the News & Record. It's about one of the public housing projects here in town, Hampton Homes, and how in 2005 it was deemed the most dangerous of the projects here. This fact took me completely by surprise, as I personally have deemed two other local projects, Smith Homes and Claremont Courts, to be far more dangerous. But until this year, I hadn't frequented any projects, so my information is of necessity lacking.

The prevaling social image of The Projects seems to fall within two types: the funny-but-warm social nursery that served as the backdrop of such TV fare as Good Times, and the crime-ridden, drug-soaked, trash-strewn holes sometimes seen on the news as the backdrop to yet more gang violence. Sadly, the latter view is closer to reality for some Projects, including some in North Carolina. However, I can tell you that not all of them are like that. Many Projects, while not squeaky-clean, picket-fenced utopias, are decent places that allow their inhabitants to arrest the socioeconomic death spiral they've found themselves in and hopefully begin the long climb upward.

Basically, it's all in the quality of the inhabitants. Most Project dwellers are decent and hard-working, willing to live and let live and try to teach their children the qualities that will keep them from having to live on the public dole. In some, however, there are those that exist only to steal, kill, rape, vandalize and produce yet another generation of subhumans all too willing to carry on such a disgusting legacy. These are what give most Projects their bad repuations.

As to our Project, we seem to have been very fortunate. Ours is a relatively quiet community. I think part of the reason is that it's off the beaten path. The presence of a police substation less than a mile away is also probably part of the equation. Any crap that goes down can be met by the GPD before the echo dies away. But so far the only untoward things we've dealt with are goose droppings, and one guy a few units up who blasts his music, but only in the daytime. It's so safe so far that I have no qualms about letting Mike or Mama walk to the bus unescorted.

But I still keep a sharp eye out for anything amiss. And Ness never leaves the house without one of us nearby, ever. Probably a good idea for any area of the city in this day and age.

To the decent, hardworking souls in Hampton Homes, Smith Homes, Claremont Courts, and Ray Warren: I know it seems sometimes like you're surrounded by barbarians. But keep your chin up; you've got a weapon the drug-soaked hip-hoppers don't: potential. You'll be gone from The Projects long before that sort even know what they've trapped themselves and their children into.

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