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The Weak Confound the Strong

The Weak Confound the Strong

We began our tea experiment at Carnes and Semmes 10 years ago

One moves into a neighborhood to be absorbed or inaugurate change. I was too much of an outsider to this historic neighborhood steeped in tradition, so offering change was my singular option of choice. Several of the original families welcomed me and inspired me to anticipate the renaissance of Orange Mound. I willingly joined and devoted my time, talent, and treasure to the adventure.  We built a simple enterprise offering imported tea for sale.  The women who came to work were imported as well. Only one had Orange Mound history.  Reclaiming this neighborhood was ironically dependent on citizens without interest, affection, or knowledge of the notability of the task. 

Getting situated, safe, secure, and solvent were the priorities of each woman who came to join us.  Originally, casting the vision was impractical.  Relationships worth having take time, and so does a proper cup of tea.

Trust and credibility have come slowly. Progress plods at a slow pace. The residents have been patient, and the leaders such as Dwayne Jones, Mary Mitchell, and Howard Eddings have been unwavering.

Now, as never before in my tenure, renewal is on the horizon, and the community I now call my own is primed for recovery. Vacant property on our street has been refreshed and restored. People are moving in. “Boarded up go away” has been replaced with “hurry up come on in.” Much graffiti has been washed away, so to speak, with iced sweet tea. Single mothers are improbably shouldering the task. The saying goes, “A woman is like a tea bag. You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

The ladies who work among us are hospitable and asking how to meet their neighbors’ needs. They are pruning and lowering the hedges that prevent good neighborliness.  Seeds planted in the spring have magically produced a harvest of vegetables they are sharing with neighbors.

The Orange Mound soil is fortified with the pride of the community’s founders. Ironically, only one of the granddaughters of the first families works for us. She proudly emboldens all of us daily to stay the course. Single mothers and grandmothers represent the largest demographic of Orange Mound. The many I have met are sturdy, self-appointed and insistent on Orange Mound’s revival from the ground up. Their children and grandchildren are in the balance. 

When the righteous prosper, there is dancing in the streets and the city rejoices.”- Proverbs 11:10

Most of the original families have moved to safer neighborhoods beyond our boundaries.  The ladies who have come to our corner and work with us can’t afford to move out of Orange Mound.  We now realize we wouldn’t be at the point of our exciting renewal if they had.

“God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong.”- I Corinthians 1:27