Fostering Community and Sustainability in Lockwood, Charlotte
In Lockwood, 69% of residents live below the poverty line1 and the neighborhood is ranked as the most economically distressed urban track in all of North Carolina.2 The population is 64.7% African American, compared to the 34.6% in all of Charlotte.3 The high minority population density in conjunction with the high percentage of residents living below the poverty line highlights the racial and economic divide in Lockwood.
Only 35% of Lockwood residents aged 18 and older graduated from high school,4 and over half of the residents are single parents. These factors in conjunction with the high poverty rate contribute to Lockwood’s economically distressed status. In order to change Lockwood’s status from the most economically distressed urban track in all of NC,5 the City needs to take action and fund a community garden and a strong GED program easily available to all Lockwood residents. These two initiatives will create and strengthen a sense of community, provide a source of healthy food, increase the education levels which will open up the job market available for residents, reduce crime rates, and help lower Lockwood’s economic distress level.
Problem Analysis and Background
Lockwood’s poverty rate has more than doubled from 31% in 2000 to 69% in 2012,5 high school graduation rates, unemployment, household income and property value each play a role. An increasing poverty rate, low education levels, low-income levels and low property values contribute to and maintain an unsustainable community.
Lockwood Breakdown (Tract 52)6
- Population: 3,038
- Median Household Income: $21,356
- Poverty Level: 68.6%
- Median House Value: $70,400
- Crime Rates: 300% greater than the City average4
- Fund a community garden within the neighborhood of Lockwood. With this funding, it is important to focus on creating a community garden that can be sustained in the long run by the community itself, aiding in the sustainability of the community.
- Fund an accessible GED program for the residents. This is a poor area; many residents may not be able to afford a GED on their own. By funding the GED program, a GED will be much more attainable. It is also important that this program is accessible in a spatial sense so the residents, particularly the single parents, are able to attain their GED without separating themselves too far from their homes.
The Triple Bottom Line
Approaching the racial, economic, and environmental injustice issues in Lockwood can be broken-down using the triple bottom line approach, which includes the social, economic, and environmental aspects that exist in all issues.
Social: By directly targeting high school graduation rates and increasing education levels, poverty levels will decrease, income levels will increase, and crime rates will decrease.7 In addition, strengthening a sense of community through the community garden will aid in the decrease in crime rates.8
Economic: Creating an easily available GED program in Lockwood will raise the education levels and open up the job market for the residents, which in turn will raise the income levels and lower the current state of economic distress the area is experiencing. By establishing a community garden, the community members will have access to healthy foods they helped grow, reducing their food costs and for their income to be dedicated to other parts of their community.
Environmental: There are certain lots in Lockwood, such as the lot bordering Keswick Ave. as well as the block of Dunloe St. and Sylvania Ave., which have the potential to be a source of environmental revival. By establishing a community garden on one or more of these plots in Lockwood, the land will be rejuvenated. Planting trees and bushes that can bear fruit will help prevent erosion, reduce runoff, foster homes for birds and other small animals, and pull CO2 from the air.
Explanation and Analysis
As Charlotte seeks to become a national leader, it needs to develop the local neighborhoods within the city as well. It is crucial to develop social programs to empower the citizens in these neighborhoods while fostering a sustainable community through the triple bottom line. Charlotte is too great a city to sit back and watch as it holds the neighborhood currently in the greatest economic distress in all of the urban areas in North Carolina.2 By empowering these neighborhoods and reducing their economic stress, the City of Charlotte will be further on its journey to becoming a model of social, environmental, and economic justice.
Strengths: This program will increases the high school education rate of the area, which in turn will decrease the high crime rate,7[i] reduce unemployment, and raise the median income level. Fostering community within the residents of Lockwood will also potentially reduce the crime rate.
Weaknesses: This program does not guarantee the participation of residents in the GED program or in the community garden.
Opportunities: The creation of a successful model of sustainable community building that can be used to remediate and revive other economically distressed neighborhoods.
Threats: This program depends on the level of community engagement and enthusiasm to be successful;. The potential increase in economic viability runs the risk of displacing the individuals whose economic standing does not improve. If there is a lack of community ownership of the community garden, it may fail, discouraging similar programs in other distressed neighborhoods.
By implementing a program that provides easy access to a GED for Lockwood residents and by funding a community garden in the neighborhood, Lockwood will become an empowered area. A neighborhood with an increasing education level and an increasing sense of community is much more sustainable than a neighborhood with a low education level and a limited sense of community. Given the success of implementation and a high level of community involvement, not only will Lockwood’s poverty levels decrease, but it will fall from the number one economically distressed urban area in North Carolina and provide a success story to become a model to move other economically distressed areas in Charlotte towards the road to a sustainable community.
- Saturday, P., 02, A. & 2014. Poverty spreads across Mecklenburg, North Carolina. at <http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/08/02/5082690/poverty-spreads-across-mecklenburg.html>
- High, W. & Owen, T. North Carolina’s Distressed Urban Tracts: A View of the State’s Economically Disadvantaged Communities. (2014). at <https://curs.unc.edu/files/2014/02/NC-Distress-Update-final.pdf>
- Lockwood, Charlotte, NC Demographics. Area Vibes (2013). at <http://www.areavibes.com/charlotte-nc/lockwood/demographics/>
- Realtor.com. Realtor.com at <http://www.realtor.com/local/Lockwood_Charlotte_NC/lifestyle>
- Mecklenburg’s poverty areas. at <http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/07/21/5058186/mecklenburgs-poverty-areas.html>
- North Carolina Census Tract Demographic Characteristics. Proximityone (2009). at <http://proximityone.com/ustr0509_nc.htm>
- Lochner, L. & Moretti, E. The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports. Berkeley (2003). at <http://eml.berkeley.edu/~moretti/lm46.pdf>
- Wedlock, Elaine, Crime and Cohesive Communities. The Research Development and Statistics Directorate (2006). At <http://www.bucksdaat.co.uk/attachments/093_crime_cohesive_communities.pdf>