Barnet: Why the Northside is important for Spartanburg
'We owe it to people brought into this world to give them a great opportunity'
Yesterday, we posted a podcast with former Mayor and current Northside Development Corporation Chair Bill Barnet. If you haven't listened to it yet, we highly recommend taking a half-hour out of your day to give the entire episode a listen. Within that podcast though, was something we think is pretty special, something that deserves to be highlighted.
One of the questions we asked was a simple one: Why should folks in other parts of Spartanburg care about what's happening on the Northside? Barnet's answer — which you'll find below in both text and audio form — is both direct and compelling, challenging all of us in Spartanburg to have a larger vision of ourselves as a community. We hope you enjoy it.
Barnet: Well, it’s a very complex equation, and I think everybody might have a different opinion or different observations. And I’m not sure I’m the sociologist that’s about ready to take on the entire community of Spartanburg and explain to everybody why they should care.
I believe everyone in the community, and in fact I believe everyone in the county, ought to care about Downtown Spartanburg, because it is a depiction of our pride in who we are and the opportunities we offer our citizens.
The young people, the creative people who are going to populate this community in the generation to come, are different than the ones before. People before wanted 2 acres in Boiling Springs. Today, people want to be around people. They want to be seen by people; they want to see people. They want to go to coffee shops and so forth.
So, I think the center of Spartanburg is important, and this (the Northside) is in the center of Spartanburg.
But I also think it would be realistic for people on the Eastside of Spartanburg, or anywhere else, to recognize the tax base it represents. If no one is paying taxes on the Northside, which is not exactly the truth but is almost the truth, then the burden is placed on a fewer number of people, including the folks you are concerned about on the Eastside.
And let’s face it: If we’re worried about crime, if we’re worried about kids dropping out of school and not knowing what to do with the idle time, then it ought to be a huge point of interest to all of us that these kids have the skills to enter school, to stay in school, to get jobs, and to be good citizens; to vote, to have hope, to care about the future.
If they are not educated, and if they find the world around them to be full of crime, or if a gang environment or drugs become the standard by which they judge their lives, then they are probably more apt to create havoc across the face of our community.
I’m sure there are a lot of other reasons, but we can all stay in our homes; we can build fortresses around ourselves; we can put gated communities up; but this world is passing us by.
We need, we owe it to the people who are brought into this world, to give them a great opportunity to become active participants, taxpayers, jobseekers. That benefits everybody, whether you live in a home on the Eastside, Westside, or wherever you are.
It just seems to me to be a standard. And in a faith-based community that speaks so often of biblical values, our world should be full of understanding for our responsibility to our fellow man.