Expecting More with Neighborhoods

Ok, I’m done with Sudhir Venkatesh’s “Off the Books” and there is one thing (among many) that is a subject that I found interesting, the neighborhood as a source of income. In the underground economy of his book residents are making side income by making meals, hosting gambling parties, selling products in the park, shade tree auto repair, and the such. With “Tally’s Corner”, I got the hint that neighborhood income was preferable so a man could keep an eye on things at home. Anyway, I think back to one or two neighborhood meetings that I have attended where someone (a resident oldtimer) expressed a desire for the community/ neighborhood to provide jobs or employment or income for residents.
Maybe that’s expecting too much of the neighborhood if it is to produce jobs. DC isn’t an industrial town. Shaw, is mainly a residential area with some commercial corridors (U St, 14th St, and a bit of 9th St). Besides, in successful neighborhoods residents get their wealth from other parts of the city and the region. Of the self-employed persons I know in the neighborhood, a job/ client in the neighborhood is nice, but not necessary. Others who have decent jobs work elsewhere. They work downtown, in Dupont, out in NoVa or Maryland. Not since college have I worked in the same immediate area as my work (TA, work-study in the library, etc), so as an adult I lived close of enough for a reasonable commute but not close enough to walk. I never expected or demanded that the job be that close to the house. Come to think of it I like a certain distance to help with the work/life balance.
As far as work goes the neighborhood does provide something. It provides good transportation, or more specifically RELIABLE transportation, so I can get to work on time. It is close enough so the commute is reasonable.

Chi-town gentrification tour- surface impressions

Chicago, like New York, but without the pesky New Yorkers and surrounded by Midwest farmland. I took a bunch of pictures, and I need to download them and label them properly. Then again 1/2 of them may be crap and only worth a delete button.
This weekend I did the Robert Taylor tour. We drove down to south Chicago, after getting bagels in Sokie.
Just my first impressions, there’s a lot of empty land round the former Robert Taylor Homes. I’m trying to imagine them with big ol’ apartment buildings on them, but all I see are acres of empty land and thinking, urban agriculture. It didn’t help that I also so plenty of community gardens and seethed with envy. Also Chicago, much bigger than DC and with tons more space. When I was reading about the Robert Taylor Homes in Sudir Venkatesh’s books I imagined something more compact, like Sursum Corda.
My guide and driver was also from Florida, so we kept comparing it to depressing parts of Orlando. There was enough barren open spaces, storefront churches, run down looking buildings that if you knocked off most of the 2nd and 3rd floors, you’d have Orlando.
Well after taking a few pictures, wandering over to the University of Chicago area and hitting a neat little farmer’s market attached to a nice community garden you could walk through, we drove to Gary, IN, for more looks at depressing areas.
Once I ID most of the pictures and locate the SD card reader, I’ll post more.