We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And yet, today, new articles and disturbing data about the best and worst places to grow up make me pause and wonder what has happened to my village? Not just my own personal network of friends, family members and neighbors – who I depend on for everything from picking up the kids, offering me sage financial advice or inspiring my son to read a book. But, how strong is the broader village that includes the grids of services and supports my immediate network can’t provide?
Living on the edge of a few counties, I am keenly aware of “grids.” Whose power grid am I connected to? Which cable or internet provider serves us? All basic functions of a “village.” I don’t consider these questions often, but when I wake up at 5 a.m., I want the light to come on when I flip the switch. Similarly, there are many critical social services that we don’t think about until we personally need them. Yet, stories like the one about the young woman from Johns Creek who died of a heroin overdose remind me that we need a strong grid of social and community services in every community for prevention, intervention and healing.
I choose to live in my neighborhood because it’s where I grew up and it’s where my mother lives. My neighborhood is not among the best places to raise a child. Lots of people reading this might suggest that we move. And many friends and former school mates have moved to “better” communities. And yes, that’s a good option for a lot of people and I don’t criticize anyone for having the means and opportunity to improve their situation and life opportunities for their children. But, isn’t it a shame if that is our only solution? I want this community to thrive and I want to make every neighborhood a good place to raise a child.