Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We Who Are Many Are One Body

Sorry for the long drought of posts but the next place that we have already confirmed with is Area 15 in Charlotte. I spoke shortly with someone from Area 15 but was not able to talk in detail with them about their community so this information is simply what I have gathered from their website.

Area 15 is a community of non-profits, small businesses and individuals who began forming around 2002. The diversity ranges from local artists (in the form of jewelers, painters, sculptors, tatoo artists, photographers, musicians etc) to bike re-cyclists to real estate agents and everything in between. They have various means of bringing all of these people into intentional community be it through their shared space in their 23,000 sq. ft. warehouse, community garden, 24hr prayer room, or local coffee shop.

This organization recognizes that each person plays a different role in society and each is vital in their own way. They do not try to influence the organizations or businesses to change but instead welcome them to enter into their community and learn from each other. You never know what input a sculptor might have on a bicycle re-cyclist, or a tattoo artist on a real estate agent, or a painter on a coffee shop. This organization seems to be a incubator of all things holy and they find ways to take what seems to others to simply be an occupation and they turn it into a vocation for building the kingdom.

I look forward to visiting this community. In reading about them and seeing the pictures it seems that the Spirit works in and through them in a unique and interesting way.



Saturday, June 4, 2011

What is Lvoe?

As I mentioned in my last post, I want to do a spotlight on each of the communities we will be visiting and so today I'm going to talk about what I know about Common Ground. I first must say that all I know is what I have gathered from their website but I want to do my best to paint a picture of the community so that A) people can get an idea of it and B) I can compare what I thought to what I experience when I go.

Common Ground is a group of couples and individuals living in the same neighborhood. They work together in the neighborhood to build relationships and to help those in need. They have six main ministries which are: Homework Help, Community Meal, Food Pantry, Clothing Room, Outdoor Friends, and Summer Day Camp. All of these ministries help to form relationship and meet felt needs.

I was listening to a podcast from John Perkins yesterday. It was from his introduction to the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) annual conference and he talked about the need to not transform the world, country, state, or city but rather the importance of transforming the neighborhood. If someone truly wants to make a difference they need to start small. Margaret Mead once said "never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has". You see it's not that groups like Common Ground are necessarily setting out with the purpose of changing the world, it just could be a side-effect along the way. What they are committed to is to lvoe one another with a lvoe not based on merit or things owed but a lvoe given freely without expectation (lvoe is not a typo, see their website for more info).

When John Perkins was asked why he was living in a bad area he said he moved there because he believed that the children deserved the right to play in the streets without fear. He said that no child of his was going to go to a school where they had to have metal detectors. He moved into an "abandoned place of the empire" in order to bring life out of death. John Perkins always preached on the 3 R's which are Relocation, Redistribution, and Reconciliation. I believe that Common Ground is also working with these 3 R's in mind and are working to better the neighborhood not simply for the sake of the neighborhood but for the sake of the individuals living there and for the sake of the Gospel.



P.S. I met with a film maker on Thursday and we had a great discussion. He is interested in our project and hopefully we can work out the details so that he and maybe a sound guy as well can come with us to document the trip. He will have full artistic freedom and so it will be interesting to see how his experience and vision of the trip differ from Jonathan and my experience and vision. We hope that we can make a full length documentary but regardless of the final project it will truly be a blessing. I will be sure to keep every body up to date on that side of things as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Little Change in Plans

I initially wanted to do a spotlight on each community we plan on visiting but over the past couple of days we have heard back from five different locations so instead I'll just give a quick update on what we learned and what the schedule might look like now.

We first heard back from Koinonia and they said we could stay with them on the days we planned but they ask for a donation from each person. I am not sure if it is a "mandatory donation" but either way we are thinking about not visiting them since they are actually a bit out of our way. Instead we hope to visit Jubilee Partners in Comer, GA and have not contacted them yet. They are similar to Koinonia and were actually started by them and so we would get a lot of the same information we would from Koinonia.

The next conversation we had was with Mission Year. Jonathan and I talked with Caz who is the director of the Atlanta program and we got the opportunity to learn more about that program and the organizations in the area. She also told us about the Dwell Community which is part of the DOOR program and the Jubilee House in Atlanta (different from Jubilee partners in Comer). We hope to stay with one of the Mission Year houses and learn what they do as well as visit the other houses and get an idea of how their projects differ. They are all nearing the end of their time with Mission Year and so we should be able to get a good idea of how they spent their past year and how it shaped them.

After the conversation with Caz I called two other organizations which we hope to visit. Those organizations are Common Ground in Shreveport, LA and Area 15 in Charlotte, NC. Both of those organizations said yes and I hope to call them later to get a little more info on where we will be staying and learn a little more about their organizations.

A bit of bad news came last night when Leah from Rutba emailed me back saying they had a house meeting and they will not be able to host us. We are upset that we will not be able to meet with Leah, Jonathan, and the rest of the community of Rutba since they are so well known among the New Monastic circle but some of these places we are visiting have actually been around just as long and some longer than the Rutba House.

Five of seven (we are still waiting to hear from the Spencer Perkins Center) ain't too bad. We plan on spending a little more time in Atlanta in order to visit some of the additional communities I mentioned that are there and we may work in a full day of Sabbath at the midway point in order to catch up on sleep because chances are we are going to be so excited about learning about the communities that we will be trading off some sleep for conversations and relationships.

Things change and not everything works according to plan but this trip is entirely dependent on the generous hospitality of others and so we are more than willing to change our plan as needed. I also want to explain that Rutba is already housing a lot of people on the days we planned on visiting and they will also be working to plan a wedding for one of the residents so please don't think that their not welcoming us is any knock against their community. They do wonderful ministry and we hope to visit them some time in the future when they are not too busy.

As for now, we're adjusting the schedule and map and contacting a few more places in Atlanta. Even if we were to only visit the communities on our list (and even if a couple ended up having to drop off) I still feel this will be a great learning opportunity and hope we can share it with others.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Speaking of sharing it with others, I am meeting with a film maker tomorrow who may be willing to go with us. I'm not sure how much is any money he will be asking for but your prayers will be much appreciated around 9:00am tomorrow when I will be meeting with him.