As we move forward after the election, it is my hope that we accelerate the all-important work of inclusive and diverse development and growth within our city.
For years we have seen the breathtaking development of downtown and the eastern and western edges of Wichita, while more impoverished areas of town continue to be divested, underdeveloped and overlooked. Tax incentives have been given to big business while smaller businesses receive little to no help. Historic and quality neighborhood schools have had their doors closed, only to see programs and students moved to the farthest boundaries of Wichita. Programs that benefit our youths during the summer months have seen their funding reduced.
Creating an environment that will be attractive to Americans wanting to start a family or grow a small business requires more than simple tax cuts. It also requires governing with the understanding that – although it may not be government’s job to take care of citizens outside of basic needs such military, law enforcement and fire protection – government can and should fund initiatives that provide the skills and tools necessary to allow citizens to be successful and achieve their American dreams.
This means that programs that offer youths and young adults employment opportunities and other training should have increased funding. Areas of town that have lacked development should be invested in. There should be more neighborhood high schools and improved infrastructure. We should repair inner-city pools such as at McAdams and Edgemoor parks. Public transportation for those who cannot afford a vehicle or upkeep should be funded, and an additional shift added.
I would argue that we have gotten away from the greatest piece of being an American, which is not only caring for our neighbor but also giving our neighbor a hand. It is more worthwhile to teach and give a helping hand than simply care from a distance.
As a former running back coach at Friends University, I could spend all day teaching our offense. But the true learning happened on the field when I could walk my guys through the plays. We grow better when we work together.
Brandon J. Johnson is executive director of Community Operations Recovery Empowerment Inc. in Wichita.