Dwell Where You Live

Recently, I moved from Chicago, Ill. to Clinton, Miss. Let me say that again, I moved from downtown, in the middle of it all, Chicago, to little Clinton. Most young adults look at me in wonder, as if purposely ran over a dog in the road with my car, and ask “Why? Why in the world would you move to Clinton, Miss.?”

That is a good question. I assure you, it was not for the brick streets, Salsa’s, nor the “hustle and bustle” of neighboring Jackson (sarcasm of course). My reasons for moving were spiritual and personal.

Perhaps you are not sure of what I am trying to get at in my humor of Chicago compared to Clinton. Let me explain to you why. All that is hip, trendy, and exciting is being started by young people in neighborhoods of Chicago like Wicker Park (where I lived) and Logan Square.

Perhaps you are not into the “hip” scene, maybe food is something you enjoy, well, Chicago has every nationality and type of person, so there is a market or restaurant that will suit you. Music? Shall I list the amount of underground music that is being birthed in the home studios and local bars. Business? The best of the best sell and work there.

Chicago, is legit, in short. But, it also has its downs. Around 500 homicides occurred last year, many of which were a result of gang violence. The south and west sides of Chi-town are extremely dangerous, and the crime is spread through out the city.

Many studies nowadays show that families are discouraged by the amount of crime and lack of effort to stop it in the cities of America, and are leaving the cities, Chicago included. Chicago shut down fifty schools this year too, due to lack of funding and lack of success. Chicago does not have a “family-friendly” atmosphere.

Clinton, is different. Clinton is friendly. Clinton is hospitable. Clinton is spacious. It provides good education (while Chicago Public Schools are flailing to the pit). Clinton has quality food, without a huge crowd everywhere you go, so good food and enjoyable atmosphere.

Unlike busy Chicago, Clinton has supermarkets and grocery stores that are accessible. I do not wish to reveal to you all of the trials one faces in walking their groceries and purchases home or on the train.

Clinton has a stable and reliable police force, that cities are not usually known for. Clinton is really safe. I remember on the July 3, between 5 p.m. And 10 p.m. 15 people were shot throughout the city of Chicago – that is a bad thing.

Clinton though, lacks a “scene.” Clinton lacks “stuff to do.” The common joke around here is that there is nothing to do – and really, it is a joke because, as they say, you can either laugh or cry about it, so laugh. Clinton is very normal. Which, many will argue that is a good thing, while others mourn.

This is a tale of the city and the suburbs. Cities are busy and unsafe. Suburbs are safe and normal. In America, suburbs really started becoming popular after World War II, as people chased hard after the American Dream with their own house, own car, own yard, and their own sweet family.

The technological advances in factory production for machinery, specifically cars, and the building of public transportation to outer skirts of the city made these things possible. People saw a way out as production allowed them to move out of the city. Most everyone, at the start, still worked down in the city, but the sickness, crime, and lack of space put many people out into the neighborhoods that encircled the cities.

As of the last 10 years or so, we have seen a resurgence of people moving back into the cities. A lot of this is due to young people pushing away from the suburb life, seeking a new experience of “city” life. This big push is led by artists, followed by hipsters, and bought out by “yuppies” or young professionals.

This process is gentrification. Nasty sounding word, right? Gentrification is where young artists by the “cheap” places in the inner city neighborhoods, make them “artsy-er” (lack of a better term) and then turn around and sell them to hipsters (hopeful artist look a likes, young trendy folks, young couples or singles) and yuppies.

Essentially where Fondren is headed. What this does is raise the prices on housing and pushes out the inner city poor. Keep following me. The inner city poor family is forced to the skirts of town, to a particular side and then forced into a suburb. Take Chicago for example again. Most crime around Chicago, is on south and west side, and especially, especially, the suburbs.

What we see is that many young people, who grew up in the suburbs, have moved to the city, become trendy, and forced those that their parents fled from onto them in the suburbs. Sorta ironic, right?

This is the relationship we currently see between the suburbs and the city. People trying to get away from each other. Youngsters fleeing home, families fleeing danger, or people being pushed around and fighting back.

Some of us are trying to get away from the boring people. Others of us are running to those who are “normal.” Most certainly, we can continue to search for what’s our fancy. We can continue to judge a certain place that disgusts us, or we can do something different, selfless, uncomfortable.

Attempt to be human with other humans. It does not mean you have to stay somewhere forever, or for a year, but be a human while you’re there. Do not doubt the other person’s humanity and ability to be a human like you – whether the old rich white man, the middle-class Asian family, the young hip black woman, or the playful Hispanic children, we really are not all that different, if we just DWELL where we already LIVE.

– Michael McGee, Contributing Writer


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