The three young people chose a simple name for their ideal community they were building.
“The Good Community,” one young man said.
Inside the Good Community, there would be block parties for the kids, a swimming pool with a diving board, a playground with swings, and animals.
A sign would rise above the tranquility.
You would need to pass through metal detectors to enter The Good Community.
“There’s no violence,” the young man said.
Here, in the Hillside Court public housing community, the young people know the truth – so many of the problems come from the outside.
Inside Hillside, there are plenty of gifted people who care deeply about these children, people working to make this a Better Community.
To support their efforts, Embrace Richmond has awarded the Hillside Court Partnership (HCP) a $500 Dream Catcher Grant for summer 2015. It will enable young people who gathered Tuesday – for pizza and a hard look at what Hillside Court is today and what it can be – to hit the streets this summer along with friends from HCP partner The Brandermill Church, capturing the dreams of neighbors and looking for common vision to pursue for a brighter future.
At a table across the room, three more young people used Legos and colored pens to design their ideal community. They called it, “The Virginia Union Express.”
“All the people in the community are one, that’s why (we chose) Union,” a young man said.
He echoed the sentiments of those who designed The Good Community.
“It’s non-violent,” he said.
The world as they know it now?
“When it gets dark outside,” one young lady said. “It’s dangerous.”
But these young people didn’t struggle when asked about assets in Hillside Court, about the good people and the good things already in place
They mentioned the men and women who coach them in basketball, baseball, football, softball, and cheerleading.
They mentioned Patrice Shelton, who shared her vision for a safer community years ago, when Embrace first began to walk alongside the people of Hillside Court.
“She’s the head of everything,” one young lady said, in describing Patrice.
The children also mentioned community service assets, like the resident-led food pantry, programs for senior adults, and sports programs.
Even as they spoke, Patrice was busy gathering gear for summer league basketball games in the evening.
“This is a good community,” one young man insisted.
This summer, the young people gathered around these tables will set forth to make it better.