Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kreyling's Obit to an East Nashville Neighborhood Organizer

One of Christine Kreyling's more gripping pieces of writing can be found in her tribute this week to the late Charlie Williams, long-time Historic Edgefield community leader. Through her prose, Mr. Williams' values shine on as most relevant for all of us who live in what he called "donut neighborhoods" around Downtown:
Charlie Williams was quintessentially tolerant, but there were limits. He had caustic words for those who had concentrated in East Nashville the halfway houses and alcohol abuse treatment centers, making the area “a dumping ground for social ills. The social workers who drive in to serve their constituencies by day and go home to the ’burbs at night don’t always realize the damage to all the other constituencies. When you have winos hanging out in East Park, you’re penalizing the kids who have to play in East Park.”

Charlie also had little patience with those who were elitists, those who didn’t worry about the kids in the park or the women walking the streets or the underinsured elderly with a leaky roof. For him, a neighborhood was a social compact. “Everybody has the right to live in a safe neighborhood,” he said. It was Charlie’s mission to bring that safety to the neighborhood in which he lived.
I echo that last sentiment, especially to all those who tell us that we should either learn to live with crime in urban neighborhoods or move to the suburbs. Charlie Williams taught us through his admirable service to Edgefield that those critics can sit on their advice and rotate. He lived showing us that we don't have to settle or to be penalized with less security.

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