A full room of support showed up Tuesday at a Leading on Opportunity community impact meeting at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in the Lakeview neighborhood. In February 2018, Police Chief Kerr Putney was in same room discussing how CMPD could mobilize to work in the Lakeview community.
Now, 18 months later, several Lakeview residents continue to lead the charge for transformation. The transformation they are looking for isn’t to make radical changes to the people of the neighborhood, but bring resources in to strengthen those who live there now.
“When we think about community, communities are made up of strong family structures,” Jamall Kinard, executive director of Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance, said. “We just can’t engage neighbors. We need to engage the community outside of Lakeview.”
However, engaging people outside of the community comes with benefits and complications.
“Many people came into the neighborhood over the years, and didn’t make change,” Kinard said. “We need to have consistent partners who care about our residents in order to build trust in the entire community.”
One of the reasons Leading on Opportunity brought over a hundred people from the community, businesses and nonprofit organizations was to see what those attending could do to galvanize in effort and resources.
The question from Leading on Opportunity executive director Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter was, “How does a community like Lakeview change and what are some of the mindset problems and conversations that need to be had?” She said without aligned collaboration, Charlotte-Mecklenburg will continue along the same path.
“We need to lift up potential bright spots in neighborhoods like Lakeview,” Cooper-Lewter said. “If things are going to change, we have to have conversations and work.”
The Leading on Opportunity Council was formed in March 2017 to implement the recommendations of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force which convened in 2015 to study economic mobility challenges in our region.
As charged in the Opportunity Task Force Report, Leading on Opportunity takes a systemic approach to addressing the key determinants of early care and education, college and career readiness and child and family stability, while simultaneously focusing on the cross-cutting factors of segregation and social capital.
“People in Lakeview bounce between psychological needs and safety needs all day long,” Kinard said.
“If you are stuck in these two levels, how can you ever get to the top levels of self-actualization?”
Kinard was referring to Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization. The theory contends that individuals are motivated to fulfill their potential in life. The hierarchy represents five needs arranged from lowest to highest needs. Psychological and safety needs are basic needs of survival, sustenance and security.
“I guarantee you, if we go from individual to community mindset, we can certainly move forward,” Kinard said. “One thing we say in Lakeview is we are building a blueprint so other neighborhoods can follow.”
Movement up the economic ladder, employment and good wage employment is one of the pieces that was brought into the conversation.
“It makes all the sense in the world to emphasize basic needs because without that stability people can’t move up that life ladder,” Alex Rossides, founder of the Social Impact Exchange, said. “The strengths and assets in these communities is where the power lies. It doesn’t always happen at a state and county level, but nothing will change if it doesn’t happen at a community level.”
Leading on Opportunity is trying to connect community resources to Lakeview. The first phase of Lakeview goals is to build a community center where resources, health and wellness and youth programming can be held.
The leadership of the alliance recognizes that without consistent and constant leadership, investment and partnerships the goals for the neighborhood will be hard to attain.
“Our residents need us,” Leondra Garrett, Lakeview Neighborhood Alliance community engagement liaison said. “If we can galvanize the community to truly offer services, we can make change.”
The call to everyone who attended the meeting was how can they and their circle of influencers collaborate with Lakeview.
“Nobody lives in isolation,” Cooper-Lewter said. “Our charge is to find out how we better engage community voice.”
You can email Jamall Kinard at JKinardLNA@gmail.com for information on how to be part of the work in Lakeview. If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.