I read a fantastic piece by Robert Draper for GQ Magazine on Rocky Mount, North Carolina this morning. I hate that it took me 5 years to finally come across it.
Having never lived there myself, I happened across this NC city by chance over a month ago while looking at North Carolina real estate.
I fell in love with the pristine condition of a home that had been lived in by the same family since 1948. The hardwood floors and private master suite, that was once a den, were only a few things that drew me in to virtually living there for the better part of a week. As I scrolled through the gallery of photos, I would imagine the paint and furniture I would choose for each room. I imagined the first party we’d throw there with martinis and bourbon clinking in glasses to the scratch and hiss of our old record player. The thick southern summers and sunny spring mornings. I could almost smell the gorgonzola stuffed mushroom caps baking in the oven. I seriously fell in love with this house.
After sharing the listing with my husband and Mother-in-Law, I eventually would snap out of the daydream phase and get down to earth, literally, use Google maps. I took a virtual tour of the neighborhood and all of these questions started filling my head. Where would we shop? Where is the nearest park? How far away are we from downtown? What does downtown Rocky Mount look like? Is it a safe city? What is the biggest employer? Do they have any annual community events? What’s the art scene like? Music! Do they have festivals?
Sadly, in my quest to find our more about this city, I learned the heart breaking reality. They were in trouble. The articles and statistics I discovered getting to know this city, that I had already virtually moved in to, was startling.
I am so grateful I came across this article by Robert this morning. It made me cry. It gave names to the poverty ravaged, once proud city, I saw on Google maps. It gave a timeline to the slow, decay so many of our cities are experiencing.
I still wonder and hope that a determined populace could reverse this sad decline, not just in Rocky Mount, but in any city. If we could be the change. I wondered if we could help Rocky Mount and find ways to revitalize the hope and be the change that was promised years ago for a few votes.
Those heartbreaking statistics on Rocky Mount I shared with my husband and my MIL? I’ll look at them a little differently now that I know some of the names of the women who sent the Rocky Mount crime rate double NC average and a little more than double the national average. (http://www.usa.com/rocky-mount-nc-crime-and-crime-rate.htm) I’ll think about their children and families left behind. I’ll wonder what we could have done to change it.
Our cities are rotting from the inside out and all I can think of is how the money spent on corporate wars and political campaigns could have helped prevent it. What can we do to save our cities? How much longer will corporate profit come before the welfare of the people? What are we doing to help educate and build skills in our community? How can citizens heal their city when it is devastated by drugs, crime and poverty? How many more times will some one casually say “People disappear all the time.” before it happens to one of their family members and they actually give a shit?
It looks like Rocky Mount is still stirring up questions for me… and yes, I still want that house.