Saturday, July 16, 2011

If Two Heads Are Better Than One, What Can 27 Heads Do?

Yesterday I arrived at Area 15 around 5:00. I met Carlos who is one of the owners of the building and he gave me a tour. Area 15 is a large warehouse on 15th street not too far from Downtown Charlotte. The warehouse is home to 20 businesses and 7 non-profits. Each has it's own unique identity and it's own unique space. The businesses range from painters, graffiti artists, jewelers and tattoo artists to real estate agents, newspaper writers, and online networking businesses.
This is one of the legal graffiti walls behind Area 15. 

In a city which headquarters many big businesses like Bank of America, Area 15 works to help out the small businesses. I really like how Carlos worded in that "We should buy from people who make less money than we do". That brings a whole new meaning to the trickle down effect. Rather than buy from large corporations to save a buck or two, buy from your local mom and pop store because the extra money you are spending will be working to benefit the neighborhood that you live in. Area 15 may not be making a lot of money from their rent but they are a ministry that works as a business incubator. Everyone at Area 15 is here because they want to be here. If they didn't want to be here then they'd leave (the leases are month to month so they only need to leave a 30 day notice and then they are free to go).

The best picture of the community that I have witnessed was that I happened to come in on the night of a wedding of one of the members of Area 15. The sound guy for the Paper Tongues was getting married and they were kind enough to invite me to the wedding. It was a simple and beautiful service that was held at a rose garden just down the street from Area 15. Leo (the groom)'s family is Mexican and they had cooked a full meal for everyone complete with chips, enchiladas, fruit, vegetables, rice, beans etc. Some dark clouds came over the wedding and right after the service ended it began to rain. I did not hear a single person complain as some stayed out in the rain talking and eating while others went inside the lone small building at the garden. They went inside for coffee, dessert, and dancing. It was a wonderful sense of community as family and friends were joined with other members of Area 15.

After the wedding I attended an AA meeting that is held in the prayer room. I forgot to mention before, but there is a space of Area 15 that is devoted to a 24hr prayer room and they have AA meetings there at 10:00 and 11:59 each evening followed by fellowship time. The meeting is an open meeting and so they welcomed me in and were a loving and honest group of people. Not all of the community would call themselves Christian but I believe they are more likely to be called Christian than many who attend a worship service every Sunday morning. Regardless of what they call themselves, Area 15 is a loving, caring, and supportive community that is searching ways to love themselves and love one another through a community of small businesses and non-profits.



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