Every time we teach Unity Works, I think I learn more than the participants. For those of you who do not know, Unity Works is an 8 week interactive workshop series designed to address some of the most challenging issues facing our city. Our goal in facilitating these workshops is to help congregational groups be more intentional, innovative, and thoughtful regarding how they engage in missions activities locally. This particular workshop series is focused on the issue of homelessness in our city and we were invited to facilitate this series by members of Commonwealth Chapel.
Tag Archives: asset based community development
photo © 2008 Masahiro Ihara | more info (via: Wylio)There is a food scarcity issue in our Hillside community. Most residents are not working, some do not even receive food stamps, there is no food pantry within walking distance, most do not have a car, and the closest grocery store is more than four miles away.
As I shared in my post “The Irony of Being Called a Socialist,” Embrace Richmond’s mission is community development not handouts. I have been researching ways to address food scarcity that moves beyond emergency relief to actual personal and community development.
When doing Asset Based Community Development the first question you ask is “what does the community have to work with?” The answer to that question is easy…time. Less than 30% of the residents earn the majority of their income through employment. We also have AmeriCorps members who are eager to serve and a growing group of residents who serve faithfully every week. In addition, we have congregations who would be willing to collect food and help with transportation.
Through the last several posts, I have been sharing insights from “Friendship at the Margins” by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl. One distinction made in the book that I found helpful was that of cause verses community. Most efforts to address the needs of those trapped in poverty are cause focused; hunger, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, etc. However friendship based ministry requires a community focus and the realization that in an impoverished community you are likely to address all of the issues or causes named above. Community focused ministries by their very nature are generalized around the many needs of a specific group of people verses specializing in one specific cause. In a world of specializations it is often difficult to be a generalist. The key to being a good community focused ministry is learning to connect to the specialist. The best connections are made in the context of friendships. This week several new friendships began.