Updated: Apr 22, 2020
In 2017 Rebekah Morris was teaching English and Journalism at Cross Keys High School, a public high school in Atlanta. Noticing that her students had really important, insightful things to say about their community, Rebekah created a group assignment for her ninth grade students to research and write about how to promote the common good in their own community. Even though most of these students only had fifth and sixth grade reading levels they had profound insights due to the fact that they knew their community inside and out.
Their community was mostly comprised of a series of apartments along Buford Highway on the north side of Atlanta and many of their insights centered on how to promote the well-being of those living in the apartments: these students and their families and neighbors. The final assignment was to present their ideas to the city councils and mayors and community members and stakeholders – and when they did people were amazed. The press were impressed and started interviewing these students on their thoughts about affordable housing, pedestrian improvements and more.
The students were so encouraged and empowered that they formed a club to keep the project going, and before you knew it they were holding dinners in apartments, to tap into the gifts of those living in the various apartment complexes. Neighbors shared their insights, leadership gifts began to blossom, residents got more connected to local agencies and government offices. Eventually, so much fruit came from tapping into the gifts throughout the community that Los Vecinos (Neighbors) was born and is now active in more than twenty apartment complexes. By tapping into the gifts God had already placed in the community the common good along Buford Highway has improved.
From the forthcoming title The Hopeful Neighborhood, copyright 2020 LHM. This is not the final form, please do not distribute or quote.