Monday, January 9, 2012

Breathing Space A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx By Heidi B. Neumark

This book should be required reading for any city planner, public health manager, or educator. It needs to be read by people who live far away from the "inner city".

Reverend Neumark, a Lutheran minister, not only became the pastor at a church in the South Bronx, but she lived across the street. When gunshots rang out she heard them. She lived there for nineteen years and during that time she witnessed great transformations-- new housing, a brand new high school, people whose lives were turned around, an expanded church.

And she brings to light some of the horrors-- the South Bronx is where the garbage is dumped, where a new prison went up, where people were shunted off to when a city planner gentrified parts of the city.

More children suffer from asthma in the South Bronx then anywhere else in the city.

But she also learns from her congregation-- there's a boldness of worship. For many of the people in the congregation this is the first time ithat they feel accepted, wanted, beautiful.

The church programs attend to the needs of the community-- all faith based.

One line in particular stays with me-- when a shot is fired the finger on the gun isn't only the shooter, but all of us.

I grew up in the Bronx-- not the South Bronx, but nott the swanky part of the Bronx. This is a book that touches your soul. Many times my eyes filled with tears-- both because of the harshness of life for many residents and because of the transformation of lives for others.

Library Book Challenge

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