Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 402
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 402
 
there is to it. If a settlement isn’t the neighbor of those it would reach, it is nothing at all. “A place,” said the sub-warden of Toynbee Hall in the discussion I spoke of, and set it on even keel in an instant, “a place of good will rather than of good works.” That is it. We had become strangers, had drifted apart, and the settlement came to introduce us to one another again, as it were, to remind us that we were neighbors. And because that was the one thing above all that was wanted, it became an instant success where it was not converted into a social experiment station; and even that could not kill it. If any one doubts that I have the right password, let him look for the proof in the organization this past month of a new “coöperative social settlement,” to be carried on “in conjunction and association with the people in the neighborhood.” Not a new idea at all, only a fresh grip taken on the old one. It is sound enough and strong enough to set itself right if we will only let it. Only last week Dr. Elliot of the Hudson Guild over in West Twenty-sixth Street told me of his boys’ and their fathers’ subscribing their savings with the hope of owning the guild house themselves. They had never let go their grip on the idea over there. They are of Felix Adler’s flock.
  But take now the elements as we have them: this great and terrible longing for neighborliness

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