Intro and Chapter 1 on The Opportunity Task Force report on Charlotte-Mecklenburg (Warren Henry)

Since this is the first mini-blog, it is so difficult not to try to explain how this task force got started in these crazy times, or to explain all of the work so far and the roadmap presented to address intergenerational poverty in Charlotte, or to explain what our congregation is doing to help in this regard. I do, however, want to touch on some of the surprises found in the Introduction and Chapter 1.

What Surprised Me

Our community ranked 50th out of 50 in economic mobility among the largest US cities. Let that sink in….shocking, to say the least. I see all of the big office buildings under development downtown (or is it uptown), I drive by many farms being converted into subdivisions, I see that we now have 2 mass transit lines with talk of 3 more all at once, and yet much of this does not impact a wide swath of the city. Where homes are in decay, where opioid use is rampant, where violence begets violence, where children and youth are severely impacted, and yet we turn away from the sorrow and misery. The inheritance of generational poverty has a significant negative impact on life trajectory.

Segregation is alive and well. This town has a deep history of segregation and discrimination (some overt, some a bit more hidden), but we are segregated by wealth/poverty and race/ethnicity, and in other ways. The recent police shooting of Keith Scott and riots that followed focused our attention on the stark realities that divide us. This is a difficult problem to address as we have no practice in confronting it directly, or even having a bit of empathy for lives impacted.

Then there is the myth that hard work can overcome any economic mobility issue. Just not true. Yes, it may happen on occasion but it is truly rare indeed. According to one study, the factor most correlated to economic success is where one is raised. Other predictive factors include school quality and family structure. Based upon facts above, the odds of children and youth escaping poverty in Mecklenburg County are very low.

A final surprise for me is what the Report calls “rings of support”. To overcome economic adversity it takes more than the support of the individual. It takes support of the family, the community and requires even changing the systems/structures that do not support.

Other mini-blogs will go deeper into many items here and others and in detail. They will challenge our assumptions and encourage us to take action and accept our call to be the church. This is not a zero-sum game, as many in our culture now tend to believe. A rising tide lifts all boats, so that all of our children and youth can be successful as they define it. Read more in following episodes………

Grace Lindvall
Associate Minister of Mission and Church Growth