While interviewing Reverend Williams in class, I noticed that a theme of his arguments involved the importance of the community, and the importance citizens using their voice. As a pastor, he feels as though he has a voice that he can use for those who may be afraid to speak up. However, he is also a community member who knows first hand that the city and its people are in need of help. When asked who has significant stakes in Atlantic county, Reverend replied
with, “The biggest significant stake is the citizens. We can’t expect the same leaders to speak out on our behalf, we have to do some of the speaking.” This is similar to the way we look at our fundamental and powerful concepts in class. The people in power are the ones calling the shots over the entire environment, and what goes on where.
The main focus of Atlantic City is tourism and the casino life. This creates a large divide in behaviors in the community. At one point, Reverend Williams stated that “Tourism thrives on the backs of the residents.” This makes the citizens feel as if they cannot make a change and that they will continue to be taken advantage of, but the community needs to come together and interact with their elected officials to ensure that their voices are heard. We saw similar ideas and feelings in Setha Low’s The Erosion of Public Space and the Public Realm. The article talks about the feelings of New York residents after the events of 9/11. Low makes a point to talk about what citizens wanted with the empty space of Ground Zero, however, what they wanted is not what they got. She feels as though the citizens needs are important, stating, “The current architectural and memorial designs do not take into consideration any of the residents’ concerns elicited through interviewing” (Low 2006). The idea that the city decided to use the space that would benefit the economy instead of the needs of the community resembles what Reverend Williams said about Atlantic City and its tourism building the economy while ignoring the residents. My interpretations of the interview is that tourism can definitely be helpful to a community in boosting the economy, but the needs of the community should be taken into account first. Making Atlantic City a hot tourist spot doesn’t really do anything positive for the people that live there. It creates a space that citizens may feel is not safe and it ignores what they need most, such as grocery stores, clinics, and shelters. It makes them feel as if they are not important, and that their problems do not matter to the people in charge of their city who are supposed to be helping them. The problem can only be solved by focusing first at the bottom with the individuals before a change can be made within the institutional and cultural levels of the society.