Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

My new book. Chapter One, Part One.

Kevin Ford

Kevin Ford

Over the coming weeks, I will begin posting excerpts from my new book. My proposal will be submitted in a week or two. I encourage you to read this blog on a regular basis. Your comments will help me shape the book. The working title is The Leadership Triangle. I am thrilled to work with Todd Hahn in developing this book. The book will feature the story of Tom Cousins. Over the coming weeks, you’ll learn more about him and then together we’ll unpack the leadership triangle.

Chapter One, Part One (Transformation at East Lake Meadows)
Golf fans argue over the identity of the greatest golfer of all time – Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods? But golf purists allow no disagreement over the most important golfer of all time – it’s Bobby Jones. Life-long amateur, forgoing professional status for the love of the game. Still the only winner of the near-mythical “Grand Slam”, all four of golf’s major tournaments in a single season. Visionary behind the Masters, America’s greatest golf championship. Gentleman and philanthropist who battled a crippling disease to leave a legacy bigger than just a game.

So it makes sense that the place where Bobby Jones played his first and last round would be hallowed ground for lovers of the game everywhere. And it made it all the more sad when this site – the East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, Georgia – had fallen into disrepair in the 1970’s. Once lush fairways were patchy and browning. Greens were slick or diseased. Formerly lush tee boxes offered bare spots that promised to snap tees in two.

But the golf course was the least of the East Lake area’s problems. Once a haven for the well-heeled of Atlanta to socialize, golf, consummate business deals, and sip cocktails, a half century of wear and tear and the city’s growth in other directions meant that East Lake had lost its luster by the 1960’s. And then came the fateful decision to build a public housing project in East Lake on the site of the Number Two golf course.

East Lake Meadows was in trouble from the start. Its 650 units were home to some of the most desperately poor residents in the United States. Poverty led to hopelessness, which led to a desire to escape, which led to drugs and alcohol, which led to crime, which led to cycles of gruesome violence.

Residents kept their blinds drawn even during the daytime. Every neighbor had a story of seeing a mugging or a shooting or a robbery. Atlantans called the East Lake area “Little Vietnam” and stayed away in droves. Police simply called East Lake Meadows a “war zone”.

By 1995, East Lake Meadows was one of the poorest, most violent communities in the nation. The crime rate was eighteen times the national average. The employment rate (not the UNemployment rate, mind you) was at 14%. The average age of a grandmother in East Lake Meadows was thirty-two.

East Lake Meadows was a desperately poor, desperately despised area, forgotten by its city, largely ignored by its city’s leaders. A place of problems both systemic and individual. A place without hope. Until a wealthy sixty-something developer with a passion for golf picked up the New York Times one day.

Stay tuned…

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