Marvin Olasky

Lupton noted that the Summerhill experience pushed his organization to develop a new rule when working in other neighborhoods: "Don't subordinate to community politics your ability to fulfill commitments. ... In subsequent neighborhoods, we've established a true partnership. When we make an agreement, we have the legal capacity to fulfill it. We'll be the land assemblage entity, we'll buy the land, we'll hold the land in accordance with the agreed-upon plan, it won't be reliant on subsequent political intrigue. The partnership has clearly defined roles."

Where politics failed, market forces have taken command. On some better Summerhill blocks, homes priced at $269,000 boast "new construction with downtown skylines views." On other blocks, older homes have been rehabbed, but with crime still a problem, many broken-down houses show huge bags of dog chow on sagging porches. Others, not so subtle, display large dogs tethered by long chains.

As affluent urban villagers move in and land values increase, some Summerhill residents may be priced out. Markets can be brutal; as Wilhelm Roepke wrote in "A Humane Economy," capitalism works best with a Christian sensibility. FCS Urban Ministries tried to bring that but failed in this instance; it's doing better elsewhere.

Yet one lesson is clear: Government initiatives have repeatedly failed, with politicians who use taxpayers' money for follies like FanPlex showing themselves to be not public servants but public exploiters.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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