I saw the headline that you were selling your house last week and I took the time to read through, curious of where you were planning on moving to. As my luck would have it, you haven’t yet made up your mind, and I would hope, you might be open to some others opinions.
I’ve only lived in Minneapolis for a year and a half, finally settling down after college and raising a family. We live just a block south of Broadway in North Minneapolis and have found it to be a beautiful community. And as a community-minded person myself, I immediately started getting involved in the neighborhood meetings and events through out the area.
I’ve been very impressed by your commitment to and your presence in North Minneapolis. You’ve come out for events large and small, even when there were no cameras, to speak about the hope and potential of North. I’ve rarely spoke well of politicians and city officials when it comes to the forgotten parts of most cities, but I must say that so far its seemed as if you are more then just empty words.
As you look for a place to call home, I believe there is no better place then North Minneapolis. And if you believe the words that you’ve spoken about this part of the city, I think you believe it too. Many politicians can talk the talk, paying lip service and then turn a blind eye, but here is your opportunity to walk the walk.
Well, less then a week away we’ll be casting our ballots (some of you already have), and it turns out there is more then just Obama and McCain to choose from. I’m not just talking about McKinney (she would have had my vote in 2004), I’m talking about the local politicians. This is not an endorsement, just a quick rundown on my picks so far. For those of you having a hard time investigating the local elections, let me lend a hand. (Sorry to you none Minneapolis folks) [also sorry that this is kind of long. Hopefully it will be helpful to you local folks. And I’d love to dialog if you have any comments on any of this].
Bobbie Joe Champion – This guy has my vote hands down for State Rep 58b (My district). The main reason: I see him everywhere. We are old pals now, because I run into him at every community event I go to, see him in the neighborhood, at the grocery store. He’s local and approachable. Hearing him talk and checking out his website gives me confidence he’ll have the communities interest in mind, and I also know I could go and knock on his door and complain if I had a problem, and he’d listen.
Keith Ellison – Also lives in my neighborhood. I’ve been impressed with his work and commitment to the community even though he’s got a busy job and off in Washington a lot. He’s on KMOJ giving straight talk about the political scene. He supports things I can get behind. He even gives time to the conservative talk shows (I heard him interviewed about the bailout package on one). He’s got my vote.
Dean Barkley – Barkley is the independent between the Franken and Coleman heated senate race. I’m a third party guy when I can be. This guy is a viable candidate, and a healthy alternative to the depressing two party system. I don’t agree with him on everything, but I think Independents are the key to any real change in our current politics.
School Board And Related
YES to Operating Levy – Educating our children is the most important thing we do. Take a walk through some of the schools and you know we need more money in public education. Definitely a yes on the Levy.
NO on Referendum – They are interested in changing the school board to 9 members and do it by districts like the parks board. Not sure what I think overall, but I’ve been impressed by the diversity of the current board and it seems the referendum and districts would negatively effect that diversity. We’ll see, I’m not set one way or the other, but I think the way it is now is better.
Lydia Lee – She’s an incumbent on the school board. I’ve listened to a few school board meetings and have been continually impressed by her. She’ll win no problem.
Jill Davis and Carla Bates – These are the two other DFL endorsed school board candidates. I heard them both at a School board candidate forum and was impressed. They seem to know what they’re talking about and are qualified to get the job done.
Sharon Henry-Blythe – is the other incumbent. I’ve heard she’s done well, but I haven’t been able to investigate much. There was this candidates forum on the northside which she didn’t even show up to (all the others, including a write in did). She has no website, haven’t seen any yard signs or literature. It just doesn’t seem like she’s making an effort to get re-elected. Your call.
Thomas Dicks – is a write-in candidate. It seems like he has no chance of getting elected, but he’s got some good things to say. He’s big on revamping the whole curriculum and doing away with the eurocentric textbooks and sort of text/lecture driven classroom style. Interesting things to say at the forum.
Mann and Reed – I’m hesitant about Mann and I really am opposed to Reed. Douglas Mann simply isn’t a good public speaker. At the forum we were at he had a hard time articulating his views. And though he had some challenging things to say, I don’t know that he’d function well on the school board. Kari Reed is a homeschooling parent. I’ve got nothing against that, but she seems completely out of touch with the challenges that face parents of public school kids. When asked about funding for extra-curricular she questioned why we are having the schools “babysit our kids”, not even acknowledging that any single parent with a job is going to need some option between the end of school and the end of the work day for their children. I don’t want her representing my community.
Paul H. Anderson – He’s the incumbent for the supreme court justice seat. Seems like a decent guy and basically his opponent freaks me out a little.
Just got back from another open mic night at the coffee shop down the street from my house. Have I told you yet that I love where I live?
Anyways, I’ll just make this post brief, but I really want to encourage you to attend an open mic somewhere in your city. I’m talking about the kind of open mic that spoken word artist show up at and share the most powerfully poetic prose you’ve ever witnessed. Words that are so real, so passionate, and so true they resonate in your mind and heart for days after. If you don’t know where one is, tell me what city you live in and I’ll help you find one.
This is what is so cool about the open mic in my neighborhood, it’s not only honest, but it’s extremely encouraging. I’ve seen such an array of people get up and share something that comes from their heart, and there is always clapping, always shouts of encouragement. It’s beautiful.
And it makes me want to try my hand at a spoken word piece. Spoken word is an art form. It’s performance poetry in a sense, but there is something deeper about it that creates in you a longing to be able to articulate and express yourself in similar ways.
Seeing as this is my playground and sandbox, you might have the opportunity to hear me experiment in spoken word sometime down the road. For now, complete your assignment.
Dear Greg (or Gary, sorry I can’t remember) and others,
I met you briefly at Peavey Park in South Minneapolis last Wednesday. I was hanging out with some punk-rocker anarchist folk, eating dinner with homeless and having an all-around good time. You came by and politely offered us flyers to an event for youth you were having in October. You were kind and cordial and I appreciated listening to the conversation between some church-goers and anarchist, two groups I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with that tend to have some nearly polar opposite values.
The flyer you handed out was impressive. Glossy on both sides and well designed, it advertised a big event for middle school kids and their parents. If the gloss wasn’t enough, the flyer was even more enticing by offering free hoodie sweatshirts for every kid that came and $6 for every parent that brought their kid. Free money and clothes, my initial thought was it’s brilliant marketing. Credit card companies offer free stuff all the time to get people signed up, and you were giving the exact types of things the people your targeting actually want. I was impressed because you had said you surveyed people in the neighborhood and the largest response you had was that people wanted something safe and fun for their children. Your are meeting a need of the community. Meeting the communities needs with brilliant marketing and large events, I have to say I was impressed. But, then I started getting uncomfortable.
I wasn’t quite sure what this discomfort was, until you left and the folks I was hanging with started talking. They were on to your scheme, they were skeptical of your ‘evangelism’ and ‘preaching’ tactics, and they hadn’t even been to your event, just had seen many others like them. That’s when it occurred to me, you weren’t sharing the ‘gospel,’ rather you were treating Jesus like a commodity, you were in a business venture.
Someone once said, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” The means (your party) are inextricably tied up in the ends (believing in Jesus) that you hope to accomplish. Your desire to have this event and ‘win people to Jesus’ will more then likely win them to a Jesus other then the Jesus I see plainly in the bible. If someone chooses to sign-up at your event, they are more then likely going to be choosing to follow the ‘jesus’ you’ve displayed to them. They’ll choose to follow the Jesus of free hoodies and free money. Jesus, from what I can tell, never enticed people to follow him. It wasn’t ‘come follow me, and I’ll give you a free pair of sandals.’
I worry that those you entice to following ‘Jesus’ at your event, will start off with such a skewed picture of what this ‘Jesus’ character is about that they will never really be able to see clearly the real Jesus we meet in the gospels. I worry that when the free money and clothes stops coming, they’ll get tired of following this ‘Jesus.’ They’ll stop following your Jesus, which I don’t think is the same as the real Jesus we encounter in Scripture; and my fear is that if they stop following that Jesus, like so many, they’ll stop looking for or considering Jesus all together.
Please consider your event, your marketing, and your Bible, I think you’ll find there is some tension there that needs to be reconciled. I think you all are doing a great thing, listening to the community, trying to meet the needs of the community, pointing to Jesus as a source of hope and truth; I think your hearts are in the right place, which is why I felt it was worth the time to encourage you to think hard about how your are bringing people to the faith. May God be with you and may your efforts be blessed.
In our recent search for a neighborhood and place to make home, the term “Safe” has been thrown around quite a bit by others. Those who say it are usually very genuine and well-intending: “Now that you have a baby, you’ll want to make sure you find a safe area of the city,” or “I’m sure you’ll be able to find a nice, safe neighborhood to purchase a home in.” I find it extremely difficult to respond to statements like these because of the layers and layers of underlying assumptions behind them. Let me try and break this down a little bit.
What do they mean by ‘safe?’ I think the most obvious is that they don’t want us living where the feature crime stories on the evening news are located. Physical safety is their obvious concern and there is certainly some validity to that. Unfortunately, our major indicator of ‘safety’ is the evening news, which tends to categorize it’s media in interesting ways, and it continually reinforces our stereotypes. First, the news covers mostly negative stories, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ Second, the news, and people, tend to categorize in ways we understand; so a large geographic area, falls into one categorization (just like a large people group or income level). What you end up with is that ‘safe’ means living anywhere other then the area of town where the poor, and many minorities, have been isolated to.
I guess I would like to start by asking different questions, and having different concerns then ‘safety.’ Shane Claiborne touches on it well:
“People sometimes ask if we are scared of the inner city. I say that I am more scared of the suburbs. Our Jesus warns that we can fear those things which can hurt our bodies or we can fear those things which can destroy our souls, and we should be far more fearful of the latter. Those are the subtle demons of suburbia.
As my mother once told me, “Perhaps there is no more dangerous place for a Christian to be than in safety and comfort, detached from the suffering of others.” I’m scared of apathy and complacency, of detaching myself from the suffering. It’s hard to see until our 20/20 hindsight hits us—but every time we lock someone out, we lock ourselves further in.” [via]
As I am trying to follow, I think the first question in deciding where to live is to ask, “What does Christ call me to?” I think a quick reading of Scripture would make it quite clear we are not first called to physical safety. Christ himself spends time with the poor and the oppressed, the ‘desperate and dangerous’ people of his day. He lives amongst the unsafe and ‘unclean’ and he speaks out to his followers to do the same, addressing injustices along the way.
Finally, as it relates to children, there is a strong lead in the Bible to teach your children to follow the faith. The goal is not to keep your child ‘safe’ above all else, but rather to lead your child to truth. Having children does not mean you forsake your values in an effort to preserve their physical longevity, it means you hold that much more strongly to the truths and convictions that you know to be true, that you might properly serve to point them toward the truth.