Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.

FIGHT THE STIGMA!

FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Aug 15, 2011

A Truce Between Project Residents and Homeowners

by Rosemary Reeves

Today, I do not feel like making a video or attempting to write something profound or being the self-appointed representative of Liddonfield Housing Project.  I do not feel like opening a can of whoop ass with my words, or expressing political ideas or even being creative.  I just feel like spending this rainy Sunday hanging around the apartment in my robe, eating all the wrong but delicious foods that are in my refrigerator while embracing the tranquility that comes with Sunday afternoon. (This will post Monday).
I have done all I can to offer the homeowners of Northeast Philadelphia, where the housing project once stood, a glimpse into the life of one public housing family.  I did this with the Liddonfielders series posted on the blog.  Portraying it through the eyes of a young girl was a vehicle to inspire compassion, understanding and empathy at least for the children, if not also for the adults who lived in the project.  The series was also intended to portray that we are complex individuals with an infinite range of human emotions, weaknesses, strengths, triumphs and downfalls.  It was meant to convey that public housing residents are not a one-note stereotype or a statistic, or nameless, faceless strangers for others to fear, hate or objectify.
I hope I have achieved my goal of changing minds and hearts by writing The Liddonfielders series.  I did not expect that my own mind and heart would be changed in the writing of it.  I am at peace now with the wrongs I feel were done to me and my family by the homeowners surrounding the Liddonfield Housing Project when we moved from the project into our own home.  
But there were additional benefits to having told my family’s public housing story.  I received emails from homeowners in the area who told me they were always curious about the lives of the people who lived in Liddonfield, that all they knew of us is that we were “the poor people.”  Not all of them resented us.  Some would drive by the project and wonder who we were and what our lives were like.  That is what gave me a change of heart.  I realized that my negative experience moving out of the projects and into the neighboring area had instilled in me the notion that the homeowners themselves were a one-note stereotype -  small-minded, provincial, bigoted and cruel.
Liddonfield Housing Project, in its physical form, is no more.  It was demolished and there is an open field in its place.  Is this not the time to set aside our differences, to unite a neighborhood that has been divided for generations?  Many of the former residents of Liddonfield still live in the Upper Holmesburg area.  Some have housing vouchers and some made it out of the projects on their own before the demolition.  Some now live out of the area but Liddonfield remains an important part of their identity.  Liddonfield cannot be gotten rid of by knocking down its buildings.  Demolishing it cannot make us forget where we came from.
The erection of an historic marker at the old Liddonfield site would serve as a gesture of reconciliation between both sides.  Go ahead and build your sports complex where Liddonfield once stood, Upper Holmesburg.  All we ask for taking away our homes is this small compensation in return.  
What some do not understand is that the proposed Liddonfield marker is not just to honor former Liddonfielders who have served in the military or helped their community.  It is also a symbol of unification, signifying the end of an era of discontent and conflict among neighbors.  It is meant to inform future generations of what once was.  It is intended to prevent such discord in years to come, to serve as a reminder of the mistakes that were made on both sides.  It is meant to tell the world that the citizens of Upper Holmesburg were noble enough to try to rectify those mistakes.  It is intended to make Upper Holmesburg an admirable example of what it means to be American.  
I shall sign off for now.  I have bills that need attention and my technical director has fallen fast asleep at his computer.  The can of whoop ass is deactivated for the moment.  

If you would like to nominate a name for the proposed Liddonfield marker, please email publichousingstories@gmail.com.  Include what the person nominated has achieved as well as their former Liddonfield Housing Project address.  There will be more about the Liddonfield marker in future posts.

3 comments:

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2011

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