[I want to begin a new blog post series dedicated to the neighborhoods of the South Side of South Bend. Each week I want to talk about some issue that confronts our side of town and how we can see change, growth, and improvement in our South Side neighborhoods. I plan on posting in this series once a week]
On January 1st, 2012, after 15 years of Steven Luecke (the longest serving mayor in our city), South Bend got a new mayor in Pete Buttigieg. Mayor Buttigieg is 29 years old (almost 30) and from all accounts a smart man. As you would expect, there is a great deal of optimism in regards to a new future and a new day for South Bend. I too share in that optimism.
In preparation for the new year and a new city administration, the South Bend Tribune during the last week of December had a series of articles dealing with issues in the neighborhoods of each side of South Bend.
Given my own upbringing and current residence, along with being the Pastor of the Living Stones Church, which is in the middle of the South Side of South Bend – I have a deep passion and interest in the neighborhood issues on the South Side.
If you would like to read the article from the Tribune (and I encourage you to…along with the comments) you can find it here.
I know that issues in a neighborhood are systemic and complex. There simply is no ONE solution. And restoration of declining neighborhoods will require more than just good city government. It will be a partnership of residents, city government, schools, churches, businesses, and associations. I look forward to a conversation about those partnerships in the weeks and months ahead.
If I might suggest, as we get started, that maybe the first thing we should do as we look to a new and bright new future is hold a funeral service and move on. I want us to be grateful for our history; I want us to honor it; I want us to remember – but I DON’T want us to be held hostage to it or use it as an excuse for why we aren’t “this” or why we aren’t “that” or why we are in a state of decay.
And specifically, I would like us to hold a funeral service for the Studebaker Corporation. I know it’s impact on this city historically has been great. I love to eat at Tippecanoe Place (the residence of the Studebakers now a restaurant)!! Seriously…I love it. But I’m tired of hearing about the decline of South Bend or are neighborhoods because Studebaker left us way back in 1963. 1963!!! That is 49 years ago!!! It has been 49 years!!! We can’t keep using it as an excuse. It is time to move on! There are now several generations (including our mayor) who can’t even remember Studebaker as a dominant force in South Bend. Yet the effects and consequences of Studebaker’s departure 49 years ago continually haunt us.
One recent positive move in this direction did come from the previous administration. They finally (after 40+ years) did tear down the old Studebaker buildings and corridor and have launched a new initiative called Ignition Park (note there is no tab on “news & information”) Who knows what will come of it. I hope it succeeds. But I wouldn’t put all of my eggs for neighborhood development and growth in this one basket. But I hope it will be a new start, to a new era, to a season of growth and development, not just in Granger, or in Mishawaka, or in the subdivisions of the far southern outskirts of the South Side of South Bend, but also for the neglected and declining neighborhoods in the heart and center of the South Side of South Bend.
Thank you Studebaker for what you have done for this city. Thank you for what you have meant. We will remember you. We will honor you. But it is time for us to say “good-bye” and we’re moving on.