by Katie Delp
I have lived in South Atlanta since 2001. I was working out FCS’ after school program at the time, and the future Carver Neighborhood Market still looked like this. It was in South Atlanta that my husband Jeff and I met and later got married. When we welcomed each of our children, now 10 and 8, we drove them home to South Atlanta.
“How do your kids feel about living in the neighborhood?”
It’s the question I am asked at nearly every Open House, training, or conversation about intentional neighboring. And I have to start with the fact that it’s the only place they’ve ever lived. Adjusting to South Atlanta has never been a reality to them because it’s their only home.
In fact, my kids love their neighborhood because they play in the yard with friends who live across the street and around the corner. They are able to walk (currently with an adult) from our house to the YMCA and the library. My son Sam is allowed to ride his bike to the Carver Market. Neighbors know our kids, and our kids love that familiar and comfortable feeling they have in the community.
Still, my kids are not unaware of some of the challenges our neighborhood faces. Our house has been broken into on occasion, and my kids feel upset, though not afraid. They are disappointed about lost items. (Though they have also learned the joy of insurance and a new Wii!)
Sam has often complained about how dirty the streets in South Atlanta sometimes are. When he’s been in other parts of the city, his most consistent observation is how clean and quiet everything is. I am intentional to teach him that he has the power to clean the neighborhood. I point out that Mommy and Daddy are working hard to create positive changes in the community, and he can, too!
My hope is that his experience growing up in South Atlanta will teach him that he can be an active participant in positive change. That he has agency to create, to collaborate, to impact those around him.
Sometimes I joke that we’re going to mess up our kids one way or the other. But when I look at my children, I am not convinced that South Atlanta will play the starring role as they lay on a counselor’s couch. I know they will face challenges as they grow up and enter adulthood. But my sincere hope is that the environment in which they’ve been raised means that the issues they face won’t be because they don’t understand diversity or they lack compassion for others. My hope is that their childhood nurtures deep roots in their souls for justice, purpose, kindness, and creativity.
South Atlanta is where I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life. It is home to me. And while there are aspects of my own childhood I sometimes wish I could recreate for my own kids, their life looks different than mine. But they are not wistful about their childhood. Their day-to-day experiences are forming their own memories, and they are joyful to live here and proud to call South Atlanta home.