as i ate my lunch i picked up the toronto start and read this article.
read it for yourself and them come back…
ok, so, what did you think? what was your initially reaction to this article? how did you feel as you read the following quotes?
“When the housing complex was designed and constructed in the late 1940s and early ’50s, it was seen as the wave of the future, a Utopian project that would satisfy human needs as never before and bring out the best in residents. If only.”
“Regent Park was yet another expression of this deep-seated desire to build heaven on earth…Of course it didn’t work. It couldn’t. Sadly, this is not how people behave.”
“Half a century later, the result is a place only a drug dealer could love.”
“The current rebuilding of Regent Park incorporates these principles and will undoubtedly be a more desirable place to live. The stigma attached to the area now will disappear in time and in a move that has been unthinkable up to now, middle-class Torontonians will appear. Already stores have decided to move in, again, something that never happened before.”
now, because i live close to the city and frequent the downtown area, i remember hearing about this rebuilding years ago. the other day as i drove down parliment street past the west-side of regent i saw the rubble of demolished buildings against the back drop of the buildings that remained and i thought to myself, “but where will all the people go?” now to be honest, i myself don’t feel 100% comfortable walking through regent park. granted, there it IS a community that has been plagued by violence, drugs, gangs and oppression but is it worth just tearing down?
if we tear down the buildings and replace them with nicer ones will the problems disappear? also, what will happen to all of the hard working people of regent park? if we tear down their homes where will they live? is regent park a community that is void of beauty and hope? well if you read the gospels that i read, the answer is no. because there is always hope and beauty where God is. and God is present in regent park. granted, he may be hard to see and hear at times, but he is present there. i have a friend named heather that is involved in a salvation army church in regent park called 614 (a group of churches based on God’s promise to rebuild the city ruins in isaiah 61:4) and have heard many a story about God at work in regent park.
so what is the answer then? if not tear down the buildings, what is there to do? i’m not really sure because to be honest, i am not familiar enough with the community. but i think that Jesus is more interested in building up, as opposed to tearing down. i think Jesus is more interested in life as opposed to death. in love as opposed to hate and fear. if Jesus were walking in regent park, what would that look like? how would he interact with the drug dealers and the gang bangers? how would he comfort those who were hurting? the mother who lost her son to street violence? really, WWJD? how would he react when the rest of the city wanted to “redevelop” regent park (and by this i mean build nicer buildings and bring in nicer shops so that “middle-class Torontonians will appear”).
what is really more dangerous here? (re: this article).