Friday, May 29, 2009

Been Green

The green movement carries a stigma that it belongs only to the wealthy and middle class that have enough money to buy hybrid cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and can afford to eat whole wheat organic. Community members of the Mapelton Fall Creek community have been "going green" long before it was the cool thing to do. Due to the conditions in Mapelton Fall Creek: lack of resources, lack of job opportunity, a lot of garbage/broken glass, vacant lots, and high energy/heating bills, people are reacting sustainable out of the need to survive. In many ways this community is a breading ground for green initiatives that most people talk about doing but never get around to implementing. Here the need for green is not about saving the trees (which is a worthy cause) but is about making the best of your situation and creating opportunity out of the mess surrounding them.
Here are some examples of people who have been practicing a sustainable life long before it was going green.
Avis is a cook who uses the empty lots to throw parties and barbecues for the community.

Tyson is a neiborhood resident who knows more about green building than most everyone and constults on green construction.

Joe King runs an unbelievable non- for profit that allows youth in the neighborhood to experience hunting, fishing, and environmental protection. His group is responsible for cleaning the section of the White River that runs through Mapelton Fall Creek.

Mike Reese is a man who pulls all kinds of materials out of the trash fixes them and sells them. He fixes and refirburshes desks and dressers and often repairs washes and driers.

Shane and Trisha are a young couple that do an unbelievable amount of garden

Boo is a gardener that plants his a garden in his own yard but also goes from neighbor to neighbor planting gardens for them.

Musa is also a gardener that has recently begun to sell his fruit/vegetables in the community. He is also implementing edible landscape.

Nancy Stenson recycles bikes.

Donald Walton is a muralist who beautifies the community and collects trash for scrap art.

and so much more...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life as a House

William owns a home in Mapelton Fall Creek and a home in Tennessee. He has left his home here in Indianapolis unattended, vacant, and bordered up for months. When he returned from Tennessee he found his home literally falling in around him. He made a comment that he had no idea how deeply philosophical, intriguing, and cool it was. Basically he said something like this: "Houses need love to! Houses need life. They need people not only to clean and upkeep them, but to cook, sleep, talk, and walk around in them. Otherwise they will die, just like what would happen if you neglected a person." (definitely not a direct quote).

When he said this I instantly thought of the poppy flower a week earlier that in my eyes represented the resurrection of a space that was left to die. This flower allowed me to see that a vacant lot was meant to have life on it in some form: a garden, a house, a park, anything, but there has to be life for it to reach the potential it was meant for. William allowed me to see that a house is the same way and that it isn't even really the cleaning and upkeep that keeps a house from falling in but the laughing, sleeping, breathing, eating, talking, crying, and all the other aspects of life that people's presence brings to a house.

I don't really know what to make of these thoughts other than I am given hope that if God can take a person that is broken and make them whole then he can certainly transform a vacant lot or boarded up house into something beautiful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Poppy Resurrection

I was walking through the neighborhood today glancing at the backdrop that the vacant lots and abandoned homes provide when something caught my eye. I made my way over to a vacant lot to witness these unbelievable flowers that had bloomed right in the empty lot. Anyone with a knowledge of flowers or gardens would know that it was a poppy flower (I had no idea). I was taken aback by its bright color redish orange color, large size, paper mache like pedals, and its location, a vacant lot, that most would say was a waste of space that was hopeless.

After a little research on the flower I found out that in Greco-Roman culture it symbolized eternal sleep and is often used as a symbol on tombstones. I thought about that for a little bit: The vacant lot has a lot in common with that flower, it seemed to be trapped in an eternal sleep that despite the efforts of many different forces it could not come out of its eternal sleep in other words was dead. These lots are not meant to be vacant, they are designed to have a house full of energy, laughs, tears, and every aspect of life living and breathing on top of it. Yet these empty lots our trapped in this eternal sleep without the life it desires to take root in its soil.
There is hope though. See when I saw in that flower I saw potential, opportunity, transformation, and ultimately resurrection in the midst of despair. The Greco-Roman culture also used the poppy flower as a symbol of resurrection.

We pass by these lots so quickly and without any hope that they never are able to become more than the wasteful space trapped in an eternal sleep waiting and desiring someone to build and resurrect it. We forget that if resurrected they have the potential to sprout beautiful poppy flowers or a beautiful home where a family is given a second chance, a place to laugh, love, cry, cook, and invite neighbors into.
Jesus' resurrection didn't end with his ascension to heaven and is not just to be celebrated around spring holidays but is the continuos workings of God transforming the messes we make out of the world into beauty.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Treasure in the Rough

Most of us would drive by the neighborhood of Mapelteon Fall Creek and never imagine that anyone noteworthy or famous would live there. Amongst all of the vaccant lots, deterating houses, overgrown grass, and not to mention thousands of preconvieved notions that swarm are minds, we do not leave much of a chance for much of anything to come out of the neighborhood.

Mari Evans, a world renown famous writer, poet, play write, and political activist lives in the heart of the neighborhood that has nothing to offer. (Check out her credentials: As I walked through the neighborhood attempting to make conversations with people that were wondering what this yuppie white kid was doing, she invited me into her home. She is 85 years of wisdom, experience, and intelligent, and I tried ltirellesy to soak up every word that she said.

What I took:
I asked her about peace and conflict in the neighborhood and where people go to resolve their conflicts. She said that people in this neighborhood are just trying to survive. This was not the answer I was looking for, I was hoping she would tell me about some person a block over that is known to be the peacemaker that people go to to resolve conflict. What she said, survival, complicates the matter that I was hoping would be black and white.

In the relationship between peace and conflict where does survival find its place?

The reality that she shared with me altered and complicated my perception of peace/conflict.

She also played us a wonderful song on the piano, and when she finished looked at me and asked what instrument I played? (as if playing an instrument was as essential as breathing).
I responded by saying that I didn't play anything.
Whyyyy, she pleaded.

Due to this encounter I think I will look into picking up the harmonica.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Broadway Seeks, Welcomes, and Values all people

Broadway is a unique Chruch in that is more focused on what happends outside the walls of the Church than anything going on inside. Outside of the walls of Broadway is the neighbrohood of Mapleton Fall Creek. Which is a neighbrohood stricken by gentrafication, poverty, racism, drugs, deteriorating and boarded up houses, and an overall plight that has allowed the neighborhood to almost be completely overlooked by the city.
Instead of walking from door to door and asking the neighborhood residents what are their needs and how can the church help? They engage in conversation and relationship to discover their gifts, talents, dreams, and desires. Instead of helping people Broadway is attempting to give opportunity for peoples gifts, talents, passions, and desires to flourish and in the process their needs will be satisfied and the neighborhood will experience positive social change.
At least, thats what I know so far, I am sure that by the end of my experience I will have much more to say on this. Stay tuned.

Intro To Me

In case you stumbled across this blog on accident and have no idea who I am or what I am blogging about here is a brief explanation.
First I am a sophomore, or wait actually now a Junior, at Butler University who over the summer will be interning with the Broadway United Methodist Church. I am a Religion Major with a Peace Studies minor (and please don't ask what I will do with that or what my plans for the future are!). I am really interested in a few different things that brought me to Broadway. The first is the character of Jesus. For the past two years my experience with Jesus has flipped my world upside down and taken me to places I thought I would never step into. I am really passionate about peace, community, gentrification, urban development/ministry, what God really wants of the Church, what community is really suppose to embody, and what it means to love your neighbor. Pshh.... I am making myself sound a lot cooler, hippier, and interesting than I really am.