Sharing Space

By Langley Hoyt ‘19

The houses that have been in Enderly Park for many years are separated, if at all, by chain-link fences. These fences are good for growing flowers or tomato plants, and they are open in a way that allows neighbors to reach across and speak to each other. The newly flipped houses, though, stick out from the older ones. They are painted bright pastels that don’t fit in with the shady, rolling streets and often-occupied front porches. Typically, these new houses have been bought for less than they’re worth and re-sold at inflated prices. The newest neighbors are safely hidden away from the rest of the neighborhood with tall, wooden fences that are hard to see over. There will be no tomatoes growing here, just high rent prices. 

This summer, I was a Stapleton-Davidson intern. I worked at QC Family Tree, a nonprofit that is run out of a home in Enderly Park. The Family Tree is many things: a house in a tightly-knit neighborhood in West Charlotte, an urban garden, home to a summer youth program, the location of front-porch community meals, and a nonprofit that owns housing in the neighborhood to maintain affordable rent prices for people who might otherwise be pushed out by gentrification. Throughout the summer, I saw how this neighborhood—under-resourced and predominantly black—was over-policed, and heard about the ways the newer neighbors used concerns about “safety” and “making the neighborhood nicer” to call the police on their neighbors for a slew of unnecessary reasons. 

So many people believe they have some sort of ownership over common spaces. If someone different from them invades that space, they justify acts of violence to keep others out of a space that there is no need to be dominating in the first place. This chokes out opportunity for community growth. In Enderly Park, most people value and share common spaces, and can solve problems within themselves without calling the police and unnecessarily raising the stakes of the situation. If someone does not have enough to pay the rent that month, people pool together their resources as best as they can to keep each other afloat. Though life isn’t easy, as humans walking this earth together, we have what it takes to take care of each other. Taking care of each other involves seeing every person’s value and deservingness (no exceptions), rather than seeing your neighbor as a stranger invading a space you have decided they don’t deserve to inhabit. 

Coming back to Davidson, I have been re-evaluating the spaces I place myself in and how I place myself there. How many of us feel like we have ownership over specific places on campus, constructing our cookie-cutter fences that keep others out? Davidson has taught me so well how to own my space, prove that I know what I’m talking about, and get things done, that this summer I had to re-learn how to slow down, get quiet, and just listen. Whose voices am I overshadowing? Whose existence am I policing? And, how can we step outside of our private, fenced-in worlds to take care of each other? These are questions I am asking myself, and I certainly don’t have all the answers.

What I know is that we have what it takes to take care of each other. Every human being has inherent worthiness—of love, of having their voice heard as legitimate, of grace given after making a mistake, of security, of getting the help they need. As the semester gears back up, I hope we can remember the deservingness each of us holds to be here, and that every other person on this campus should feel that same deservingness. By paying attention to the spaces we are taking up, we can avoid taking over. We have what it takes to maintain space for each other to grow, starting as we are, together. 

Langley Hoyt ‘19 is a Psychology major from Greenville, South Carolina. Contact her at lahoyt@davidson.edu 

Comments are closed.