By Stewart E. Perry
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Extra info for Communities on the way: rebuilding local economies in the United States and Canada
HADC seemed to meet the criteria we had set for a potentially successful demonstration of the new program for CDCs. It was a self-initiated and independent groupnot just established to take advantage of a new federal source of money, as so many groups were in those days and for years thereafter. It was broadly representative. Its large board (every member of HADC was then also a member of its board of trustees) included every local influential person in that neighborhood except one. ) The three dozen or so black HADC trustees included a prominent architect, social agency directors, businessmen, and leaders of street gangs, as well as welfare activists.
The council had been a place for more talk than action, and it was unprepared to take any responsibility for looking to a future after the riot. But Brown had other plans; he was a minister with only a small storefront congregation, but he was a masterful organizer. In 1967 he was elected president of the council, and he set out immediately to revitalize the organization's planning function. He was backed by a wide spectrum of residents who had been informally talking with each other for several months about the need for the black neighborhood to take more responsibility for its own welfare and development.
These social inventions spread throughout much of North America, and today they mobilize and redirect underused local resources and bring back hope to a scene from which it had long departed. I somehow knew at the time that I was a participant observer of a potentially very important social episode, but only now am I able to look back upon this time and try to lay out systematically what it can mean. I have to admit that I had had no professional interest in the problems of the forgotten community until they were thrust upon me by a change in work sites.