What if we consider gangs in areas of decline, not as a sign of social decadence but as a means of social organization that can be the stepping stone to create local hubs of small businesses, run and secured by the gangs themselves?
In 1958 East Saint Louis was named the “All American City”. With a population of 83,000 the city was prosperous and thriving as a musical center producing big names in blues, rock, jazz (Miles Davis, Tina Turner, Ike).
The city’s eroding financial position along with the construction of freeways around the city broke up the city’s neighborhood and community.
Today, the city has a population of 27,000 residents, drastic urban blight struggling with stagnant economic conditions amongst a severely deteriorating social landscape.
Gangs rule. After visiting and talking to their representatives again and again, I realized that gangs are just another form of social organization for survival. Maybe rough, even violent. But so are the conditions that the community experiences. Gangs are not rich. Their drug and gun lords are. In their view they are just doing business, with some of the most prevalent and highly demanded products in the area.
Despite that, there are other products and services that can be equally profitable for them, and have nothing to do with drugs or guns. But...they miss the experience the contacts and the knowledge to make them profitable....
Read how this can happen at: