Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 2 at Area 15

Yesterday was a fairly relaxing day for me. I slept in until about 9:15 and then went to a bible study in front of the free store. The free store is located next to the main building of Area 15 and they have various items but mainly clothing in which anyone can take what they need. The slogan for the store is "give what you want, take what you need". I attended the bible study and then headed back to my room to write yesterday's blog post.

After finishing up the post I went to the coffee shop called Not Just Coffee which is owned by a guy named James who has experience living in intentional community. He, his wife and kids no longer live in intentional community and I found it interesting when he said he would never do it again. The reason I found it interesting that he would say something like that is because he IS still living in intentional community. Maybe he no longer has to share a bathroom at his house but he does still share a bathroom at his work (there are only a few bathrooms at Area 15 so many businesses will share one bathroom) and he is still working in intentional community in that he is working with the other businesses around him. James and another guy from Area 15 had worked at Leo's wedding to brew coffee for all of the guests. From that experience, they are now looking to possibly add catering to their business and cater events such as weddings, art shows, etc where they bring their unique coffee and brewing style.

We sat and talked for a while until Daniel, a friend from College came and picked me up and we went to get some lunch. I had forgotten that Daniel lived in Charlotte until the night before and so I gave him a call and we decided to pick up some lunch. It was fun to catch up and we mostly talked about how great Carolina Football was going to be this year and a little bit about what we had been doing the past year.

When I returned to Area 15 I talked a little bit with Carlos and Robert who are the owners of the property and we shared ideas of how to live in community and how to live intentionally as Christians. They talked a little about how Area 15 got started and how it has affected them and others who have been a part of it. Conversations like that have been some of the most enjoyable parts of this trip.

I ended the day like I did the day before with the open AA meetings. This time, I also stayed for the 12:00 meeting and hung out with everyone until about 2:00AM. I obviously will not talk about what was said in the meeting but I do want to mention one thing that I found out. In Minnesota they have these places call Wet Houses in which they allow homeless alcoholics to come and live in the Wet Houses and they are allowed to drink. It is basically the governments way of say that the alcoholic is hopeless and it is better to give them a place to drink themselves to death rather than "waste the tax payers money". Since when has helping to save someone's life been considered a waste of money? I wish I could say that this information shocked me but unfortunately it doesn't we live in a society that is centered around money. Everyone wants to make as much money as they can at all cost and they want to spend it on themselves. Some try to help others but only on their terms. They don't want to do anything to inconvenience themselves.

I was standing outside of Area 15 when I noticed something rather interesting. This is the view from Area 15.
In the background you can see the downtown Charlotte skyline. Those tall buildings are home to many fortune 500 companies as well as their CEOs and top employees. You may also notice the foreground which can better be seen in this picture.

While the other picture showed all of the wealth of downtown, this picture reflects the poverty which is oh so close to the extreme wealth. This is not unique to Charlotte but can be reflected in most cities. West Dallas is one of the most impoverished zip codes in the United States yet they have a "beautiful" view of the Downtown Dallas skyline.

How can we find reconciliation? Area 15 is a prime example of where people could start. It wouldn't take much for some of those big businesses to buy warehouses and rent out the space at little to no cost in order to create small business incubators. That, however, could possibly create a paradigm shift. People may begin to think they can actually be something and start their own businesses instead of working for corporate America. People might start shopping locally and live out Carlos' version of the "Trickle Down Effect" where people buy from those who make less money than they do. But alas, what then, would happen to all those multi-billion dollar industries. We wouldn't want them to lose business...would we?



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