At the present moment, it seems as if our city is the site of an extreme make-over. From new hotels to the adaptive re-use of old hotels to the facility upgrades of our universities, hospitals, shopping centers, and business corridors, anywhere you go there is a good chance of encountering construction projects. Cities all across the country, especially along the rust belt, are reinvesting in their urban cores in an attempt to create a post-industrial identity. And Syracuse is no different, as this once industrial city is becoming a champion for environmental principles and the spirit of collaboration. A renewed focus on urban revitalization can help businesses flourish by attracting new middle-class residents and consumers with expendable income, but an influx of new money may alter a neighborhood’s identity. So, what affect does the rising cost of living have on long-term residents in these neighborhoods?
In Atlanta, Georgia, the FCS Ministry (Focused Community Strategies) has been working in the city’s core for thirty years. When founder Bob Lupton decided to move his family into the city, he quickly became aware of how urban revitalization has the potential to push out current residents. To that end, FCS Ministry was created. This organization focuses on identifying strategic neighborhood residents who can work collectively to foster neighborhood pride and leadership among both long-standing neighbors and newcomers, alike. In addition, FCS is the central link to a web of activity including, but not limited to: an economic development group that operates a market place, bike shop, cafe and refugee crafting group; a nationally recognized youth development program; affordable community housing developers; entrepreneurial assistance; a program to care for older residents; and service opportunities contributing to the overall revitalization efforts. FCS Ministries strives to create a mixed-income community “with both social and spiritual vitality as well as economic viability.” As our city moves forward, we must keep in mind FCS Ministry’s mission and build our community upon a sense of social justice and a respect for our neighbors.