A Road Runs Through It
Zenith Rising


#1 Apr 1, 2009
As some of you know, my novel involves a real estate developer who, upon confronting the searing poverty in his dying city, gets involved in a nonprofit housing group attempting to revive the city and its residents.(I just placed an ad on Facebook which reads "Zenith Rising: From Real Estate Developer to Community Organizer. The First Novel of the Obama Era").

Some of the material was based on my involvement with a group called People In Faith United Housing Corporation. We were doing the work which I described in my book. In the early days it was quite a heady experience. We were seeing lives changed, and houses being restored, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in a very poor city (Detroit).

We had a master plan, and part of that plan included installing a park right in the middle of the neighborhood. We had funding, we had momentum. Then we got massive funding, which came with strings attached, including using licensed contractors to do the rehab work, instead of using volunteer labor from the community.

This undercut the essence of the program. The big money also brought corruption. I was at that time Treasurer, and after three months of not receiving financial reports, I quit. Shortly after that the lawsuits started.

For years I've driven past new houses we built which have steadily fallen apart. I've driven past the large, empty field of mud and dirt where the park was supposed to go.

The other day I drove past the neighborhood. The city has been repaving the roads after a massive sewer line replacement project, and I noticed the road has been repaved, right through the middle of the festering corpsse of the park.

A very sad sight indeed.


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