Monday, January 7, 2013

Chatham: Battered but Vibrant

[VIDEO] This was a very powerful story about Chatham from the New York Times. Worlee told the story about how this story was written and eventually published and he was quoted in the write-up. It starts with the attempted robbery and murder of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham in 2010. That event was considered a "cataclysm"
For all that, the social scientists studying Chicago neighborhoods in 2010 were betting that the middle-class enclave of Chatham, on the city’s South Side, would remain stable through the recession. It had done so for decades, while surrounded by impoverished areas. It had somehow absorbed a wave of newcomers from recently demolished housing projects. And the researchers’ data suggested that its strong identity and scores of active block groups had helped protect residents from larger economic threats and offered clues about how to preserve threatened urban communities all over the country.

Chatham should hold, barring some unforeseen cataclysm.

The cataclysm hit on May 19 of that year. That night, a group of assailants jumped Thomas Wortham IV, an off-duty police officer and Iraq war veteran, as he was leaving his parents’ house. He resisted and was shot, bleeding to death on the street where he grew up.

The entire city seemed to stop for breath, holding a memorial attended by hundreds of fellow police officers and citizens, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois.

“We were blindsided by this; blindsided by what happened to Tommy,” said his mother, Carolyn Wortham. “And yes, you begin to question everything.”

In Chatham, it seemed, all bets were off. Many residents began to think the unthinkable, that maybe it was time to escape the place they had done so much to build.

The community’s response to the crisis would test a theory emerging from an ambitious, nearly decade-long study of all of Chicago’s neighborhoods — that a neighborhood’s character shapes its economic future at least as much as more obvious factors like income levels and foreclosure rates.
And we still have the issue of crime with Chatham being the location of the 10th firearm death in Chicago. I can only hope it doesn't get worse this summer. Also, I hope the NY Times won't think that crime will go through the roof in Chatham!

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