Interviewed by Bella Biwer
Interviewed by Bella Biwer
Arthur Brown has lived in the Sherman Park neighborhood since 1993. He has served as a member of Community Baptist Church located on Sherman and North Avenues, and he participates in the Men’s Network associated with the church. He has been a friendly neighbor, doing various handyman jobs for those who need help. He is committed to help his community in any capacity that he can.
Born on October 22, 1953, in the small town of West, Mississippi, Mr. Brown grew up with his parents, his sister, and brother. His father passed away when he was in the ninth grade. He lost his mother a few years ago. She was 99 years old. Mr. Brown communicates regularly with his two siblings despite living far away from them. He emphasizes the importance of family because “that’s love nobody else can take away from you.”
During our conversation, Mr. Brown discussed the generational gap that is present in the community today. As a young man, he wanted to get out of his hometown and experience new things. He moved around a lot. During that time, he experienced various jobs and met various people. He feels that young people have all the tools and resources they need to succeed, but a lot of them are not willing to put in the effort to do so. His story demonstrates how discipline, diligence, and steadfastness are qualities that served him well. As a result, he feels passionately about reinstating some of these ethos to young adults in the neighborhood. He is planning to start shop classes at local high schools so that young residents of Sherman Park can be trained with job skills.
When Mr. Brown and his wife moved to Sherman Park, they were drawn to the local Boys and Girls Club and bands that played in the park. Over the years, he feels that there has been a shift in the community’s demeanor. Although he believes that Sherman Park continues to be a good place to live in, it concerns him that people are afraid to go outside to simply take out the trash, or to sit out on their porches in the evenings. He suggests that perhaps if the number of abandoned and foreclosed homes could be reduced, the community would have a stronger sense of safety. He feels very strongly that the few people who choose not to care for their homes and neighborhood spaces end up giving the entire community a bad reputation.
Mr. Brown feels that landlords play a large role in that dynamic of stewardship and responsibility. He mentions that landlords who don't care about the community often neglect to perform maintenance tasks such as trimming the trees or cutting the grass. Stewardship of the environment is a shared responsibility, and the tenants have a part to play. The relationship between landlords and tenants is a two-way street, he argues, adding, “If you rent a property, you should take care of the property like it was when you moved in.” He emphasizes that if everyone took the time and effort to care for each other and their neighbors, there would be a significant change in the types of interactions that occur in the community.
Mr. Brown believes in the ethic of helping. In his free time, he is always willing to help his friends and neighbors. He repairs their cars or assists in home-improvement tasks. Although he does all of this out of the love in his heart, he feels that there is a certain sense of reciprocity that is encouraged by acts of helping one another. When he helps his neighbors, he knows that his neighbors will be there for him too. Mr. Brown also tries to make time for his older friends. He enjoys sitting and talking with them because he notes the importance of having friendly and frequent conversations with others. He knows how that can impact their lives, even if it seems insignificant in the moment.
Mr. Arthur Brown is a strong supporter of communication and neighborliness. He also wants to bridge the generational gap that he sees to be extremely prevalent. At the end of the day, he wants people to come together to discuss what needs to be fixed in Sherman Park. “because, [you] see, one person can’t do it by themselves. Everybody got to come together as a group; we come together as a group, we can do it."