GQ has a long read by Kathy Dobie about Little League baseball’s role in the revival of downtrodden Camden, New Jersey. Transforming drug turf to baseball fields and former gang bangers and dealers into coaches and fans:
“When an addict tries to enter the park, [North Camden Little League founder Bryan Morton] blocks his path. ‘The park is for kids and their families today,’ Bryan says. The man looks flummoxed. ‘Where am I supposed to go?’ There’s absolutely no light in Bryan’s eyes when he says, ‘Not my problem.’ What incenses Bryan is that the children of North Camden are invisible to men like this. They must be, because how else could these junkies decide, again and again, that it’s okay to shoot up in front of 5-year-olds on slides, toddlers plucking at the grass?”
“Bryan’s philosophy in a nutshell: Don’t let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.”
Obviously it’s more complicated than that, but it’s a great read about people doing what they can.