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Economic Fallout = Closer Neighborhoods

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posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 01:37 PM
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With Economic Hardship everywhere, it's safe to say that everyone is going to either experience tough economic times personally or know someone who is. Layoffs, Joblessness, Foreclosures, et cetera are not just for the poor anymore. Even the Middle Class is experiencing these things and we see it beginning to erode the lowest rungs of the Upper Class as well.

It finally hit home for me this week.

I grew up in Middle Class America in Detroit. I was given the best schooling available, and plenty of opportunities growing up. My parents fell on Economic hard-times when we left everything behind in Detroit to move to the West Coast where the jobs were back in the early 1980's so I had to learn to fend for myself and pay my own way through college. However, I met the right people and got in on the ground floor of an Industry that has sustained me and my family for the past quarter of a century. Somehow, I've been able to remain Middle Class despite the odds.

However, in my divorce almost 7 years back I lost everything. The house, the furniture, the cars, and half of my monthly salary for the next 14 years. Still, I found myself keeping afloat and making ends meet and doing just fine even when my neighbors were facing Foreclosures and Layoffs. I had to turn to new ways of living, but it wasn't that bad. My daughter and I moved in with a single mother and her child who couldn't afford to pay the Mortgage on their house anymore with a single income. Although we weren't a "Traditional Family" it worked, having two separate half-families living in the same one-family dwelling.

So, last week my roommate of these past seven years told me she had to sell the house at a loss and was moving back in with her parents. My daughter and I had to find a new place to live on meager means.

Unfortunately, my Credit is still hurting after the divorce. Everything negative will drop off my Report in January, but in the meanwhile I can't qualify for a Home Loan despite having more than 50% to put down, and I discovered I can't even Rent! Everywhere we applied to we were turned down because of items on my Credit Report from almost 7 years ago! We had no other choice but to move to the Mexican Ghetto.

The apartment we had to settle with certainly doesn't appeal to my Middle Class sensibilities. For lack of a better word, it is a "dump". To make matters worse, large Hispanic gangs of 25-60 people congregate outside of my apartment complex and in the Park next door. The Police won't even patrol the area and convincing the Cable Guy to come out to hook up Internet was almost nigh-impossible. So much for being able to order Pizza every other night!

I was about to despair at my current situation until I discovered something remarkable. Even though the Police don't patrol this neighborhood, the Hispanic gangs do. They act as a neighborhood militia. While I was sitting on my balcony Saturday night, smoking a kretek and watching the stars, I noticed a young girl who should have been dressed more conservatively walking alone long after dark with a pervy man skulking about 50 feet behind her. She kept nervously looking over her shoulder as the man kept getting closer and closer. As they passed my apartment complex, a group of 20 Hispanic males went running out there to interpose, and let the girl get to safety. They told the skulking pervo that they better not see him around here any more. The incident made me start to think.

So Sunday I was trying to carry the rest of my belongings that couldn't fit in the Moving Truck up the stairs, and one of the gangs hanging out front all day rushed to give me assistance. What would have taken me an hour to do alone we got done in one trip. While they were dropping off the boxes in my apartment they noticed all the things wrong with my apartment (like holes in the walls, a broken dead-bolt, a leaking faucet, a non-functioning garbage disposal, missing drip-pans, etc.) and after dinner I was surprised when some of their fathers showed up with toolboxes to lend a hand in helping make repairs to my apartment that the Slumlord/Landlord didn't see fit to fix before renting it out!

Yesterday, my daughter wanted to play in the Park. I was rather hesitant to let her go over there as there are about 60 teenage gang-bangers who loiter there. I escorted her over there and stood watch over her as she played and I recognized a couple of the younger guys who helped me move some boxes the night before. They told me I was part of the Hood now, and that they look out for their own. They explained to me that my daughter is safe in the park, and I don't have to worry and watch her while she is in the Hood. Of course, I'm still going to watch over her, being the overprotective father that I am, but I believed them.

At that point I started watching things going on with much more scrutiny and noticed people helping each other out. One of the gangs was running errands for an old Hispanic woman in the apartment across from me that is home-bound. I saw two other gang-bangers helping a woman with her groceries as her hands were already full with her rambunctious children. I noticed another group gathering around a person's vehicle that had broken down while they were trying to help this absolute stranger passing through get their car running again. One guy from one of the gangs was smoking and drinking and noticed one of the sprinklers not functioning after it came on. Rather than ignore it, he gave one of his friends his beer and dropped the conversation and walked over it and fixed it!

Perhaps the most amazing thing was that despite the seemingly omnipresent, roaring engines, thumping Bass and the Brass of Mexican Banda music, and occasional domestic dispute, the very second 8pm rolls around everything in the neighborhood draws to absolute silence. You can't even hear a neighbor's television when they have their windows open in the heat of summer!

Growing up in Detroit, I saw some ethnic neighborhoods get really close, but nothing like this before. Everyone is courteous and nice to one another, they help each other out, and everyone takes personal responsibility for the entire community in whatever way they can.

It made me realize that when SHTF, a close-knit neighborhood Slum with a tight community is by far the better place to be than in a Middle Class Suburbia. It also made me realize that the more money and wealth and position one gets, the further one tends to navigate away from their community and their place within it. I would feel sorry for any jerk who decided to try to take advantage or rip-off someone in my new neighborhood, or looked out only for themselves.

Perhaps Economic Fallout isn't a bad thing after all. Perhaps it gives us the opportunity to re-learn that none of us are an island unto ourselves. That instead of looking out for Numero Uno and our own, that we are part of something larger that we have to take personal responsibility for. We should be helping one another instead of turning a blind eye, or being lost in our self-absorbed self-interests. The less money you have, the clearer this becomes. Now that I've had to move to the Mexican Ghetto and leave my White Middle-Class Suburban life behind, I'm grateful for the experience so that I could be reminded what Community and Neighborhoods really are supposed to be about.

[edit on 25-8-2009 by fraterormus]




posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 02:20 PM
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This is so far beyond the truth that I have no choice but to star and flag this thread.

I live in a pretty wealthy community... I guess you could call it upper / middle class where the average home costs $350,000.

My wife who was an illegal alien several years ago, introduced me to this culture that you described. In order for her to gain residency in to this country, she was forced to go back to Mexico and apply for reentry. Basically even though we were married with a child, she still had to go back to Mexico for one year and await approval from the consulate on weather or not she could come back. (if denied she could not apply again for 10 years).

Anyway during that time period she had to live in Mexico, I took several months off from work to stay with her in her home town... And I must say... The experience showed me a community I could have never imagined here in the USA. It was almost as if life here in the states was completely backwards, or at least in my community it was.

Besides Mexico... I also frequently visited the low income apartment communities here in USA because that's where my wife's family lived. For some reason, it reminded me of my youth where all the kids were outside playing, riding bikes, sharing new toys and playing soccer... where as currently in my neighborhood all the kids are indoors playing XBOX and surfing the web. When I grew up as a child in the 80's, you went outside to play with the neighborhood kids and your parents didn't worry so much about your safety... Well that no longer exists in my neighborhood... But I saw it all the time in low income Mexican community that my wife's family lived in, and I let my son take full advantage of this whenever he visits that part of town.



But back on topic... you are right... If SHTF I know there is one group of people that won't have trouble surviving the tough times... Mexico is gonna be just fine.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 03:18 PM
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Originally posted by Doomsday 2029
This is so far beyond the truth...

Anyway during that time period she had to live in Mexico, I took several months off from work to stay with her in her home town... And I must say... The experience showed me a community I could have never imagined here in the USA. It was almost as if life here in the states was completely backwards, or at least in my community it was.

Besides Mexico... I also frequently visited the low income apartment communities here in USA because that's where my wife's family lived. For some reason, it reminded me of my youth where all the kids were outside playing, riding bikes, sharing new toys and playing soccer... where as currently in my neighborhood all the kids are indoors playing XBOX and surfing the web. When I grew up as a child in the 80's, you went outside to play with the neighborhood kids and your parents didn't worry so much about your safety... Well that no longer exists in my neighborhood... But I saw it all the time in low income Mexican community that my wife's family lived in, and I let my son take full advantage of this whenever he visits that part of town.

But back on topic... you are right... If SHTF I know there is one group of people that won't have trouble surviving the tough times... Mexico is gonna be just fine.


So what part in the OP is so far beyond the truth? It sounds like your own experience reinforces my recent experience.

I agree that White-Bread (misspelling intentional) American culture (or lack thereof) did get backwards at some point. The Nuclear Family model isolated us. We hid in our Middle Class Gated Communities in fear as we were told to be afraid of crime, fear gangs, fear people who weren't like us, and to fear even our own neighbors. We stopped trusting one another and started suspecting one another and in the process became a Nation of Victims who rely on the Police far too much to take care of protecting us from our fears.

We stopped relying on each other in our communities and in our neighborhoods in America, and in the process stopped being neighborly.

Cultural differences aside, you just don't see that happening in Hispanic Communities (well, at least with my limited experience of just one). Sure, there are gangs, but they aren't there to commit senseless violence or commit crime, but exist only to deter violence and crime in their community and to protect the community. Sure, Hispanic neighbors peek out their windows to observe the weird things you might be up to, but not to gossip to the other neighbors about you or report you to Homeland Security, but to see if you need any help.

I might not understand the appeal of Mexican Banda Music (and it seriously might get on my nerves), and all of those gangs of teenagers roaming around might look intimidating at first glance until you get to know them, and I might not be into muscle cars and pimping out my ride, and the devout Catholic thing might not be my personal cup of tea, but when you look past those cultural differences, they live and practice daily those same Old Fashioned, Small Town Family Values of Yesteryear that Politicians in this Nation tend to idealize and pontificate about in their rhetoric.

In a Financial Crisis, a Nuclear Family is only as strong as it's bread-winner. In a Financial Crisis, a Community is as strong as the sum of all it's members. So, just as with you, it's a no-brainer to me as well which of the two is going to come out of it just fine.

Maybe the rest of America will learn from it and we can get back to counting on one another and trusting in one another, knowing that our Communities are looking out for one another instead of competing against our neighbors or living in fear of our neighbors.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 03:48 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus

So what part in the OP is so far beyond the truth? It sounds like your own experience reinforces my recent experience.



Did I word that the wrong way?

When I say "beyond the truth"... I mean it's more than just true, it's a scientific fact of life.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 04:11 PM
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I loved your stories!

I am a 'fate-a-list" (sorry no way I spelled this did it look correct!) and strongly believe that Everything happens for a reason.

Fraterormus I believe that your daughter will be a better person from this experiance and will learn valuable "life lessons".

Good luck to you both!



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 05:00 PM
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Originally posted by Doomsday 2029
Did I word that the wrong way?

When I say "beyond the truth"... I mean it's more than just true, it's a scientific fact of life.


Now that you explained it, I get it. It's a colloquialism I'm unfamiliar with, but now I think I might use it myself if the occasion arises.


My apologies for my confusion.

[edit on 25-8-2009 by fraterormus]



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 05:33 PM
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Star and flag! Thanks so much for posting this. I'm glad you're getting a real inside look at how we live rather than the garbage they show on TV.

I came from a multicultural home. My momma's Mexican and daddy's a white boy. From childhood I noticed a huge difference in the way my moms family lived as opposed to the way my dads family lived.
My moms family encompassed the entire block, her extended family everyone within a 10 block radius.

My dads extended family was a few brothers with their wives and kids on the rare occasions they were all getting along.

Which neighborhood would I feel safer in? Moms hands down. In Moms neighborhood we learned to take care of each other now. In dads neighborhood we learned to call the police after the rape - whole lotta good that does... Not.

As an adult now myself guess which neighborhood I picked to live in



posted on Aug, 26 2009 @ 02:27 PM
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I'm from the Philippines and I find this true in my country. We are almost the same culture as Mexicans and nothing almost differs between the two.

BTW, Americans did not invent gated communities. We did.



posted on Aug, 26 2009 @ 02:48 PM
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Great thread, Frat. It made me feel pretty good.


I have to admit, in all honesty, as your telling this story, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the 'bad' thing to happen. At every turn, I found myself becoming more and more stressed, worried and afraid for your safety.

WHAT?!?! You let these guys in your APARTMENT?!?! Now your stuff is gonna be stolen FOR SURE! (crap like that)

Why? Because sometimes I'm just stupid, and biased, and prejudiced... and even racist.

I'm sorry about your troubles, Frat, but your experience has had a definite impact on the way I look at things today.



posted on Aug, 26 2009 @ 05:03 PM
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Originally posted by KSPigpen
Great thread, Frat. It made me feel pretty good.


I have to admit, in all honesty, as your telling this story, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the 'bad' thing to happen. At every turn, I found myself becoming more and more stressed, worried and afraid for your safety.

WHAT?!?! You let these guys in your APARTMENT?!?! Now your stuff is gonna be stolen FOR SURE! (crap like that)

Why? Because sometimes I'm just stupid, and biased, and prejudiced... and even racist.


Ever since I've moved in to my new place I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop too. However, the one thing I've noticed in life is that there is always a silver lining to everything that happens, no matter how tragic the circumstances may be, there is good that can come out of even the worst of times.

And don't feel so bad about being biased and prejudiced. I think we all are even though we like to pretend we aren't. Even though I grew up as a White Minority in a Racially diverse city like Detroit, even though I never even experienced or witnessed Racism until my late teens, even though I have traveled abroad, even though I was engaged to a Lebanese Arab for almost 4 years, even though I don't believe in Nationalism or Patriotism, even though I always try to keep an open-mind, I still find myself falling prey to racial stereotypes as well. Even my OP in this Thread is full of thinly veiled racial stereotypes, even though one of the morals of the story was to learn that stereotyping is bad.

For example, I met a girl in the neighborhood named "Emerald". She is Hispanic and was born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants from Mexico. She's grown up all her life in the Mexican Ghetto, however she not only doesn't fit any of the racial stereotypes, but she actually defies most of them. She dresses in 1950s style clothing, wears combat boots, is Vegetarian, listens to Punk music, drives a black Hearst, has decorated her apartment 17th century Romantic style, she bakes, knits, and sews for hobbies, and is so old fashioned that it almost makes one nauseous, she doesn't even know more than a dozen phrases of Spanish, she's Pagan, and even though she's in her early 30's she's never had a child. We shared a couple of glasses of Port while discussing our mutual dislike for Mexican Banda music. However, despite being an iconoclast to the Hispanic stereotype, she shares the same core values as the rest of the Hispanic community she has lived in all of her life, and has no desire to ever leave it. Everything about her has reminded me that no one fits a stereotype, and our uniqueness and diversity is what gives us strength.

My ideal time and place would have been Alexandria in the third century BCE. Not only would that be because it was the most enlightened center of learning in the known world at that time, and housed the greatest library of both the Ancient and Modern worlds, but because of the diversity of people and cultures that were openly accepted in Alexandria. The city of Alexandria was the first major Melting Pot of the world. It was what America was destined to become millennium later. People of every known culture and of every religious persuasion gathered together freely and peacefully for the purpose of sharing and learning from one another.

Lacking the means to Time Travel, I have come to realize that although some in our nation may oppose Immigration and feel threatened by Immigrants, even though we still may cling to racial stereotypes such as "Black Women wear the pants in a relationship" or "Asians are mathematical geniuses but can't drive" or "Native Americans are alcoholic chain-smokers", America is about as racially diverse and racially tolerant as you can possibly get. Each and every one of us is a mongoloid of various races and cultures. Even Upper Class White-Bread Americans are fond of saying such things as "I'm 2 parts German, 1 part Irish, and 1 part French". So blurred are the racial lines in America that Native Americans are constantly telling me that I'm the first "Purebred" Native they have ever met only to be embarrassed when I explain to them I have regrettably no Native American blood in me, although I am flattered at the sentiment.

Although Racism is becoming extinct, I don't think stereotyping ever will. However, if we didn't stereotype we wouldn't have material for SitComs.
Seriously, I think that even if we are unable to recognize that we are all human, so long as we learn to recognize that we are all Americans, then that's a step in the right direction.

In the meanwhile, I too am having to learn to come to terms that I do stereotype too and instead of feeling guilty about it, learn to laugh at it and learn from it. Most of all, I'm learning what it means to be part of a close community and that even if you think Old Fashioned, Small Town Values were lost somewhere back in the 1950s-60s, just like your car keys, you can still find them in the last place you'd ever think to look.

[edit on 26-8-2009 by fraterormus]



posted on Aug, 26 2009 @ 05:16 PM
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Dear Esse,

Your correct about mi hermanos en los barrios! I have never seen such close knit communities of caring People as the Latino persuasion.

I am not biased, but it is a fact. Many gringos don't understand, and fear the culture because it is different. There loss.


S&F



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 04:01 PM
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Originally posted by sanchoearlyjones
Dear Esse,
Your correct about mi hermanos en los barrios! I have never seen such close knit communities of caring People as the Latino persuasion.

I am not biased, but it is a fact. Many gringos don't understand, and fear the culture because it is different. There loss.


I've worked with Hispanics since I got my first job at age 14 and have always been amazed with their strong work ethic. If I was an employer, I would give a Hispanic applicant greater weight than an equally qualified Caucasian, not because I'm biased, but because I know that I can count on them to take their job seriously and do it well.

I've always known that Hispanics tend to be very family oriented. At the last place I lived before my move, the house behind us lived a Hispanic Cop and his family. The way they took care of their kids put both my roommate and I to shame as parents. We both secretly despised our neighbors not because they were horrible people but because they made us look bad in comparison.


Now that I'm part of los barrio (bajo), I'm coming around and enjoying it. It's clear to my neighbors that I don't quite fit in yet, but most of them are friendly and tolerant and accepting, even if the older women cast me disapproving looks when I do something that is considered unacceptable. I'm learning though.


I think I'm over the culture shock now and am now learning my way around the culture so that one day I can be a good neighbor and take an active part in my new Community.

So much for learning German and brushing up on my Arabic to complete my requirements for Field Work in Egypt! It looks like learning Spanish is going to take priority for the time being. LOL!



posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 06:18 PM
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reply to post by Doomsday 2029
 


Ya ya.. I am probably of the last generation to be able to stay out until the street lights came on.. now anymore in the to catch a predator society we live in, kids are taught to be afraid of anything and everything.

But of course, to be fair to my suburban slash rural upbringing.. we may never have had roaming gangs "protect" our streets, but it was safe enough.. typical middle class America I guess... seeing as it was mostly farms while I was little, our gang wouldn't have been very big anyways..

On the News, every night, living in one of the most dangerous states in the Union for crime/capita the usual killings occurred in the ethnic Mexican neighborhoods, the poor black neighborhoods and the poor white neighborhoods.. While I am sure that some communities form like the one you describe, the "average ghetto" so to speak is still a blight on American cities..

So pardon me if I don't run off to join the "gang bangers" in what ever poor section of the city they roam, if TSHTF I will be out in the Rural parts, where I come from.. The cities would be crazy. Not saying poor people are bad people, its just that some of the neighborhoods I would describe as "ghetto" happen to be where the majority of crime is.



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