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Screen and Soul: Making Choices


Screen and Soul: Making Choices VOLUME 4, NUMBER 2 // Spring 2012

Features 7

THe tool, the choice, the ancient questions

CONSP!RE editors

8 Of Idolatry and Hope

Michael Toy “We are the bearers of a peculiar hope.”

11 Mars, Venus, and Tech Tools

Erin Gleason “Technology is just one more place we speak across our differences to engage powerful and God-given gifts.”

12 High, Low, or No tech

David Maddalena “A few practical principles for thinking about when (and when not) to embrace technology.”

15 The Activist’s Guide To Technology

David Maddalena “It may be time to bring your technology habit into line with your principles.”

18 Life LInes

Chris Hoke “His touch took me back to a hungry young man crouched behind a desk in the towers of wealth, whispering a prayer.”

21 Pulling the Plug

Gabriel Solano “Life without many conveniences of modern technology has localized us.”

24 Tech Swords Into Plowshares Evelyn Sweerts “We need to be creative about how to use the web to build peace, one connection at a time.”

26 Making whole choices in a digital world

Coconspirators share about their digital lives

28 the digital-grassroots gap

Brian Murphy “From my perch as an online strategist, I see a disconnect sabotaging our work for social change.”

30 Blood Phones

Julie Clawson “Our cell phones and laptops connect to systems of injustice beyond the oppressive conditions of factory workers.”

32 Plain Living in a Computer Age Magdalena Perks “We are suspended between embracing electronic technology and grounding our lives in ways that are centuries old.”

34 Toward the New Heaven

Ricky Staub “True teaching is actually wholly sharing.”

35 Mastering the Machine

Elliot Harmon “Coming from the ‘hood, most of us do not see a computer as a factor in our lives.”

36 Of Tools and Grace

Brent Graber “We have come to accept that most questions and dilemmas can be answered with a tool.”

40 Raising Kids Offline

Dee Dee Risher “If technology is anything to a child, the word is: mesmerizing.”

Poetry 39 Your Personal Brand Jonathan Hiskes

50 CAUGHT IN THE UNDERLOAD Michael Toy

Departments 43 Reviews 44 Breathing Together: A People Known For Love To Facebook or not? Brett “Fish” Anderson reaches for a larger vision.

46 notes from Scattered Pilgrims News from our coconspiring communities.

49 Contributors

Find more resources, articles, and listen to the interviews with these authors at www. conspiremag.com/technology, where you can also find a study guide for this issue.

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C

The Tool, the Choice, the Ancient Questions

hange is always with us. The task of human civilization has been to integrate change well and to choose among its possibilities.

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born,” quips computer scientist Alan Kay. We live in a world being transformed by digital technologies, an age of irrepressible invention. We’ve even invented “planned obsolescence”— the calculated, accelerated demise of our own inventions to feed our ravenous consumer economies. These have altered the touch and texture of our work, our social lives, how we tell our histories, the ways we connect and collaborate, and how we procure, hoard, and share our wealth. Anything so primal can and must touch on the faith we bear in the world. And so this issue, shepherded by a group that ran the gamut from technicians and programmers to simple-living, techno-resisters. We all love questions. We reflected our worlds and our own relationships with technology, and we mostly disagreed with each other on nuances. Here are some premises upon which to digest the following pages: 1. Technology is inevitable, but our choices around which technologies we use and how we use them offer us everything: danger, freedom, possibility. The web is inevitable, but what kind of web we have is not. 2. Technology is not neutral. It is a tool, and as such, it carries us somewhere because it offers us is a new choice; an option we did not have before. By offering the possibility, technology invents the choice. What we bring to that choice demands and reflects our moral and spiritual values. 3. Scripture has much to bear on these new choices, but the questions it poses are the ancient ones with which God has always confronted humans: What does this do for my poor, the least of these? How does this choice build human love and relationship and creativity? How does it support creation? Accordingly, our key questions are how technology plays into or subverts these: materialism, environmental destruction, the human ability to do good work in the world, and relationships. We choose again, every day—and we work and dream toward new choices and inventions which can boldly answer “Yes!” to the good. In exploration of new ways to share ideas, this issue features audio interviews with some of our authors. Check out the podcasts, additional content, and other resources at www.conspiremag.com/technology.

--the editors 7


City Progress and Simplicity by Ellen Moore Osborne

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Of Idolatry and Hope Michael Toy

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he word “technology” tends to be used as a code word for whatever currently impacts society. The “technology” of one age always eventually becomes the “good old way of living” for which those in a future age grow nostalgic. In our own time, the word evokes tablet computers and social networking. We no longer consider a radio, however, technology. What was once a miracle is now just a prop in a Norman Rockwell painting of a family gathered around a console. Any current version of technology which challenges and changes our way of living commonly elicits one of two reactions. The first response assumes that the technology is the thing which takes us further and further away from our true selves. It is a Faustian devil, offering rewards doomed to disappoint in exchange for our souls. The other response lauds technology as the herald of an ever-emerging new era. It perceives that mixed in with the dangerous and distracting are treasures which will make a huge, beautiful, and good difference in the history of people. Practical, faithful, wise people exist who hold to either of these two views. I do not want to suggest that one attitude is better than the other. Nor do I think that there is some balance point on the continuum between them which perfectly pairs suspicion and incredulity with adventure and discovery. If one of these two poles represents your thinking, your attitudes may very well be part of your unchangeable and God-given structure, and you don’t need to try to alter them. I do want to suggest that both groups of people are making the same mistake. Both are judging technology around their individual vision of the future and its possibilities. In doing that, both can end up actually distancing themselves from hope. I admire hopeful people, and I admire the hopes both these different attitudes carry—the hope for a more personal, simple and connected world; and the hope for a new era, when our amazing discoveries place some of the biggest problems humankind has faced in the rearview mirror. Our hope, however, does not lie in resisting or embracing technology. Our hope is the Christ who is blatantly unaware of propriety or property. Christ invades, subverts, transforms. This Jesus is neither afraid of, nor revealed by, technology. We make an idol out of technology whether we tremble in fear of it or turn towards it with arms wide open. The danger of an idol does not lie in the thing itself. It is the distraction from the real; that which is trying to become true. I have read thoughtful comments by people suggesting that the Internet is ruining real relationships and calling faithful, responsible people to unplug, or at least observe a rhythm of Sabbath, so as not to be sucked into the technology miasma. Yet, these reflections are almost always written by people who are the 9


naturally-resistant-to-technology type of people. These people do not need to take a Sabbath. They are in no danger of losing their souls to the great, worldwide Satan. Their sabbatical periods could really be feeding their own fear. Perhaps these people should choose a discipline of being more active online, not less. They could bring the radical, transforming Christ into the very place that seems dark to them. If they are living authentic beautiful lives that cannot be contained in online discourse, they might post more on Facebook, tweet more, blog more, and by their presence, bring the presence of Christ with them. I’m not saying that a social-media Sabbath is a bad idea. I think the other kind of people, the technology-embracers, probably need to incorporate something like this into their lives to balance against the tendency to bounce from gadget to gadget and never touch a real person. It is tempting to stay in the virtual world, wielding power like a prince. There must be time to unplug and take that lunatic optimism for the good-future-technology-can-bring outside and off-screen. Go walk in the world that the optimism belongs to. Yet these people need to do more than that. If they feel that modern technology has given them something, then they need to understand that this new power is something to be shared; to be given away. It is not to promote ourselves and our savvy skills. Instead of driving down the information superhighway at onehundred-and-fifty miles an hour with the top down and the music blaring, the super surfers need to find ways to use their skills to give voice to others. They must offer creative opportunities to bring goodness to everyone. If you 10

know how to make something beautiful and interesting on the Internet, find someone who has a story to tell and help them tell it. We are the bearers of a peculiar hope. This hope is not a minor quirk of Christians. It is central to our identity. In the mid-1960s, when the idea of a radical change in society was suddenly starting to become a reality, Jürgen Moltmann wrote his prophetic and powerful Theology of Hope, with this opening which still challenges and inspires: “…the man who thus hopes will never be able to reconcile himself with the laws and constraints of this earth, neither with the inevitability of death nor with the evil that constantly bears further evil. The raising of Christ is not merely a consolation to him in a life that is full of distress and doomed to die, but it is also God’s contradiction of suffering and death, of humiliation and offence, and of the wickedness of evil. Hope finds in Christ not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering. If Paul calls death the ‘last enemy’ (I Cor. 15:26), then the opposite is also true: that the risen Christ, and with him the resurrection hope, must be declared to be the enemy of death and of a world that puts up with death.” It is for this reason I think we need to beware, not of technology, but of our response to technology. Technology is one of “gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell” (Deut. 4:28). We cannot let it distract us from the hope that we were created to carry. There is work to do, and we should not let our relationship with technology contain—or constrain— the hope that inspires and infuses that work.


Pulling the Plug Gabriel Solano

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hen Kelly and I unpacked our boxes in our new home in the impoverished community of South Fairview three years ago, one thing we did not have to unpack was a computer. Unnerved by how wired our lives were becoming, my wife and I began untangling ourselves from different household technologies we thought we’d be better off without. The microwave was the first to go. Then went the dishwasher, followed by the washing machine, car, and cell phone. We swore off transportation by air, and then, finally, pulled the plug on the computer. When folks ask us what it’s like to live without many of the conveniences of modern technology, our best answer is to say that it has localized our life. Without email and Facebook, most of our relationships must be nurtured in person. This has meant that while we have lost contact with hundreds of former friends, we know nearly every person on our block. Without access to blogs and news sites, we are out of touch with the latest presidential debate, but we do know when our neighbor runs out of medication. Without a car, conferences and edgy “radical” gatherings are out of the question, but we can attest to the great joy that an elementary-school concert brings. The reduction of our world from friends-across-the-country to families-across-the-street, while challenging, has helped us root ourselves more deeply in this place. Some of you are protesting that you, too, are aware of when your neighbor’s medication runs out. Even now, you are ordering a refill for her online. Loving our local neighbors does not require such extreme Luddite disciplines. I hear you, and even agree with you. But this is what I want to argue: Modern technology is not unraveling our ability to love our neighbors. Modern technology is unraveling the places where we even have such a thing as neighbors.

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Heading to South Fairview sans car, cell phone, and computer worried us. We were concerned that our newly wireless life would divide rather than unite us with neighbors. Wouldn’t a nice little homestead be a setting more appropriate for slower, more agrarian life than a crumbling ghetto? Wasn’t being privileged outsiders with heady visions of “community,” “reconciliation,” and “resistance” weird enough already? Why add more “odd” to the package? Our fears were quickly allayed. Mostly, neighbors questioned our lack of television. Our other great technological sacrifices went unnoticed. In South Fairview, cars, laptops, and Internet access are still luxuries. About a third of our town owns a car, and those who do must share it with their household of, say, nine. Computers are spotted in less than half of our neighbors’ homes, and where they are, Internet access isn’t a given. Few residents have a functional email address. Cell phones are more common, but not pillars of daily life. I have yet to see an iPad. What appears as “radical” to those outside South Fairview was simply ordinary life to those within it. We did not stand out. What did stand out to us, however, was how well everyone knew one another. Walk down any street in the summer and you’re likely to find young mothers gossiping on front stoops, self-conscious teens flirting, and hordes of kids romping around. In South Fairview, there is no such thing as a stranger. You are family, friend, or enemy—but never unknown. This sort of intimacy has its downsides (“Everybody be up in each other’s business,” as locals say), but mostly it is a gift. Neighbors watch each other’s kids. Lawnmowers are shared. Cousins and second cousins live across the street. We are one lively, semi-dysfunctional family—and I love it. Those who have relocated to places like Fairview know what I’m talking about. This sort of close-knit village life was new for me. Prior to moving to South Fairview, all my attempts at “loving my neighbor as myself” were done in the context of sprawling suburbs and trendy urban neighborhoods. I marched in anti-war demonstrations, ate local, and helped throw potlucks for homeless persons downtown. While our globalized economy does require the Church to keep the plight of our global neighbors vividly in mind, any engagement with my actual, geographic neighbors was conspicuously absent. How was I supposed to love my neighbors when I hardly saw them? It didn’t seem possible in the transient, anonymous life found in most suburbs and cities. Things are different in South Fairview. With rowdy basketball games clogging the streets and kids always knocking on the door, loving one’s neighbor

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ceases to be one more political cause to remember while shopping and becomes as simple and natural as attending a birthday party down the street. Both forms of love are important, but one just feels more complete than the others. Why is it that most suburbs and cities are increasingly random collections of strangers while places like South Fairview are intimate communities? As time passed, it began to occur to me that the “localizing” effect Kelly and I were experiencing, without access to modern technology, had been at work in the life in our neighborhood for years. In an ironic twist of fortune, our town’s relative lack of access to modern technology has actually shielded it from the destabilizing effects that have turned much of North America into an anonymous society. Limited access to cars has allowed vast root systems of the family tree to inhabit the same block and town. Recreation is limited to how far one can walk (usually the park) and not how far one can drive (the mall?). Slow adoption of computers and Internet culture means births and deaths are announced in person, not over email. And neighbors have more friends in town than on Facebook. I do not mean to romanticize my town’s poverty, but simply to point out that there seems to be a direct connection between the amount of technology a community adopts and its ability to maintain its close-knit social fabric. By not being able to afford the American dream, South Fairview is (mostly) bypassing the technology nightmare that assuredly comes with it. Preserving neighborhood life not the reason Kelly and I began our move away from modern technology, but it is surely one of the primary reasons we continue to do so. Neglected ghettos and dying rural towns are some of the last places left where the greatest commandment is still practiced with one’s natural neighbors. As corporations find ways to make their latest gadgets more affordable, and as advertisers continue to seduce young imaginations, the gift of local life that so many of us cherish hangs in the balance. The loneliness and anonymity that has struck so many cities and suburbs has already begun to creep into South Fairview. Television keeps way too many neighbors inside, and I’m tired of all the texting that interrupts our pickup basketball game. I’m not naïve enough to think our household’s decision to stay offline and on-ground will do much to stop the technological colonization that is bound to come, but I love South Fairview’s block parties enough to be unwilling to give up the fight just yet.

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Have you signed a Change.org petition? Updated your Facebook to support a cause? Tinted your Twitter picture to show solidarity—with protestors in Iran, bullied LGBT students, or union workers in Wisconsin? Brian Murphy @begeem

O

r have you marched on City Hall, organized a town meeting, knocked on doors to register voters, and volunteered at a homeless shelter? I work full-time as an online strategist, conspiring with individuals and organizations to change the world through digital mediums: web, video, social media, applications. The list of tools at our disposal grows constantly. From my perch, I notice a disconnect which is sabotaging our work. Often would-be change-makers rely too much on technology, while in-the-trench activists don’t use it nearly enough. The online group is fantastic at disseminating information, tugging at the heart, and creating a mass awareness. (And individuals are sometimes disparagingly termed “slacktivists:” people who are politically engaged online— joining digital causes, signing petitions, changing their status—but who don’t participate in on-the-ground activism.) The real-life group, on the other 28

hand, is great at analyzing myriad forces, building coalitions, and delivering real, tangible results, but doesn’t use Twitter feeds or online media to effectively educate and involve others. I believe that neither method of activism is fully actualized without the other. The world is missing out because of this disconnect. When I began working with The Simple Way in 2009, our online presence would have felt more at home in 1999. The Simple Way had intentionally chosen a particular version of simplicity with minimal technology: a rudimentary website, few cellphones, no social media, no air conditioning, a house serving as an office. Without all the bells and whistles that modern society says are essential, The Simple Way was indeed effective: providing school supplies and Christmas presents to hundreds of neighborhood children, mentoring and discipling young Christians searching for a


new way to practice the way of Jesus, advocating for more just laws, and boldly confronting violence. Over time, The Simple Way began experimenting: posting videos to YouTube, engaging friends and supporters on Facebook, posting more resources to the website. We used Skype to have virtual meetings from across the country and shared working documents over DropBox and Google. It felt awkward for me. I’m supposed to be working “in solidarity” with “the poor” and I’m working remotely from my laptop? I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Manhattan and taking a conference call on my iPhone? There was something decidedly “unsimple” about it. Were these changes pragmatic attempts to stay a relevant voice? Cooption by the culture? Or simply using the tools we have to bend the world toward justice? The best answer is: Yes. It took many years and countless conversations to begin unlearning my assumptions about “the poor.” In the low-income neighborhood where The Simple Way is hubbed, kids play in hydrants—and on their phones. According to information from the US Census Bureau and Nielsen, 28.7 percent of the world’s population is online. This marks a 444.8 percent increase from 2000 to 2010; including increases of 2,357 percent (Africa); 1,825 percent (Middle East), and 1,033 percent (Latin America and the Caribbean). The world is becoming increasingly connected to the web, and the places Americans often think of as “disconnected” are plugging in at a breakneck pace. To ignore the Internet is to ignore

a hub where people across the globe can and do connect. Globalization can have an equalizing effect, allowing non-Western, nontraditional voices to be part of our activism efforts. There is still a fair amount of privilege reflected in who is online, but it is shifting daily. Sociologists point to an emerging “fourth world,” where technologies like computers and cell phones are not available. Digital and local activists alike need to address and be accountable to these invisible groups who currently cannot contribute to online conversations. The challenge is to utilize digital technology in ways that support our work as well as the needs of those with whom we work. It’s too simple to say “Technology is distracting and dehumanizing” or “Twitter caused the Iranian revolution.” Both overlook the nuanced ways in which we interact with our technologies. I’d like to propose an experiment. If you’re wary of engaging technology, take time each week to find new ways to use it to bolster your efforts. Watch a documentary on SnagFilms. Record a video that teaches a skill (urban gardening? composting? bicycle maintenance?) and post it online. Contact one of your lawmakers. Sign a petition. Participate in a webinar. If you’re a tech-savvy digital activist, facilitate on-the-ground engagement: attend a MeetUp, visit your mayor, attend a rally, participate in a workshop, organize a tweetup (a meeting of followers from social networks). Work to combine and harness the power of both online and offline activism. There is a world to be changed. 29


Raising Kids Offline Dee Dee Risher

I

was raised as a television-starved kid, a deprivation intentionally arranged by my parents. While television was ubiquitous in the sixties and seventies, my parents made a conscious decision not to buy one. That decision (like so many parental stands against culture) was ultimately subverted by the grandparents, who gave us a huge color console a few years later. As I raise my kids in a digital, webbed world, I realize that I am borrowing a page from that book. I think those strong TV limits gave me a fuller and richer childhood and a fulfilling adult life. Thanks to my parents, I grew up in an outdoor world and a tribe of relationships. Mine was a childhood of climbing, inventing, making, and building. My four siblings and I now use TV and other screens very intentionally. Before my city-raised kids (ages ten, twelve) enter the multi-sensory explosion that is our screen way of life, I am trying to give them time to grow up as offline kids. I want them to be as in love with the tactile and textured and breathing world as I am. I want them to have imagination. What I’m really battling is the “I’M BORED” kid who walks into my house, sees no DS or television, and has no idea how to amuse himself. The apocryphal story in my family is of my nephew, at age four, asking a neighbor kid over. “I’m not coming out—I’m watching TV,” his friend responded. “Be careful,” warned my nephew. “Too much TV will make you forget how to play.” So we have a few funny rules at our house. You can’t play computer games or watch a movie when you have friends over—you are supposed to play in real, physical, and relational ways. I ask visiting kids not to bring over hand-held electronics and games—things our home doesn’t have. (If the kids are going to start going electronic, I want to know.) The limited computer time happens after chores, homework, and dark—and not every day. Cell phones are not toys kids get to be cool. Expect a cell phone when you leave home and need one. (This last is perhaps the hardest sell. Most of the kids in their urban classrooms have had cells since second grade. If you can’t text, do you really have conversations in high school?) Yet culture is bigger and more powerful than two parents, however beloved— and if technology is anything to a child, the word is: mesmerizing. So we are fight40


Lifeless in Pleasantville by Kathryn Cook

ing the long defeat, simply trying to buy time. The Internet will also be a lifeline to my kids, and I know that. Kids can learn more with the web than I ever could with a library and the set of encyclopedias my parents were so proud of. My son gets into Brown vs. Board of Education and he can watch interviews, read papers, find multimedia resources from all perspectives. He understands instinctively that there are many voices telling different stories. Unlike a TV world where one passively receives what the screen gives, computers allow kids to interact and be creative. Technology helps level the playing field for kids with learning differences in ways that makes learning infinitely easier. It is vastly increasing the body of human knowledge by increasing cooperation and accessibility. But there are downsides. While I would not argue that kids are less fulfilled creating a movie online than building a treehouse outside, I do have an uncompromising bias. I want them to love trees, know their birds, and be able to grow food. These learnings are offline. We have all our lives to sit in front of our alldominant screens and tap out our work and social interactions. There is a growing body of evidence that our digital-age habits are rewiring our brains—specifically driving many of us into less focused, more distracted, more impulsive patterns of thinking. Research tells us that plasticity is an essential quality of the brain, which has rewired itself for centuries. But during the critical childhood period of neurological development, do we need to wire our kids for distraction? One bold elementary school principal I know asks parents whose kids are 41


struggling with focus to put their children on a screen sabbatical. (“I’d love two months, but almost no parent is willing to do that!”) Within a few weeks, the intervention leads to marked improvement in the student’s ability to focus. For parents who worry that their kid will lose an edge: numerous studies demonstrate that kids with no or minimal screen time not only catch up with their screen-focused peers by mid-teens but use it more distinctively as a tool instead of mainlining it like a craving. Recently, I was at a mostly adult gathering. The five kids there hardly knew each other except that the same group had gathered one year previously. That time, the kids were initially suspicious, but soon played together like old friends. This time, the other three parents had backup in the form of an iPod, a smartphone, and an iPad. Soon, every one of the five kids had retreated to a corner—into books or screens. On parting, one of the parents said to me: “I’m so disappointed S. (her son) didn’t play with your kids. They had such a great time last year!” I stared at her, then mumbled something polite instead of my judgemental and yet incredulous, “What do you expect when you bring an iPad along?” At issue is how much our kids get to tailor their world—and how much they instead are forced to grapple with the actual funny and flawed human interactions around them. We learn to be community by participating in relationships we neither tailor nor choose. Researchers in longitudinal studies of narcissism may debate tools and methods, but almost all agree that there is a sharp spike in narcissism exhibited by college students over the last twenty years—by some assessments up by 60 percent. Many believe that digital technologies around self-representation in a digital world (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) are a factor in that increase. Narcissistic people create dangerous societies. One responsibility of parents as well as our schools and communities of learning is to draw out the good and buffer the bad for our kids. But most schools believe that they must adopt more and more technologies to reach our techno-kids. As author Lowell Monke reflects: “Educators say the darndest things. Consider this from a high school social-studies teacher who told me, ‘Kids don’t read anymore. The only way I can teach them anything is by showing them videos.’ Aside from the stunning capitulation of adult responsibility, these comments illustrate what has become a common disregard for one of schooling’s most important tasks: to compensate for, rather than intensify, society’s excesses.” The old saying goes: “If you want to know what water is like, don’t ask the fish.” Soon a digital sea will engulf every part of my children’s lives. My task now, with these few, fleeting years of childhood, is to offer them palpable ways to understand and carry the beauty of life outside that sea. We can only choose how we will live in a digital world if we know, love, and hold to the rich and different life outside of it, trembling just beyond our fingertips. Visit www.conspiremag.com/technology for links to research around screens, kids, and our brains. Nope, this little irony is not lost on us. 42


News from our Conspiring Communities Consp!re is sustained by communities and groups. Here, our coconspirers share what’s happening, from new kids to a new world; from the mundane to the inspiring. Learn more about our groups at www.conspiremagazine.com. While there, join our conspiracy of goodness! Chicago Catholic Worker (Chicago, IL): We will be hosting the 10th annual Midwest Catholic Worker Faith & Resistance Retreat here in Chicago, May 11-14. For more info, see www.2012resistanceretreat.blogspot.com. Coral House Community (Aiken, SC): Our community is changing. One couple is doing a year of missions, and another family of seven and two adults are moving from Lake Worth, Florida, to Aiken, South Carolina, to reinvent ourselves and our mission. We will continue to orient around sustainability and relationship with the poorest among us. Dathouse (Indianapolis, IN): We bought an old strip club our neighbors helped shut down and plan to convert it into a community center. We are close to moving our first family into one of our renovated homes, and our community is expecting another baby! Praise God for community! (www.dathouse.wordpress.com). Detroit Villages/Ailanthus (Detroit, MI): We’ve been celebrating marriages and babies! We will be welcoming a seminary intern for summer 2012 to learn about intentional community and be a part of our annual intern house, helping them pursue spiritual development. Special thanks to Metropolitan UMC for being a great host for our monthly potlucks! (www.detroitvillages.org). Hyaets Community (Charlotte, NC): We are preparing for Share Day, our annual neighborhood swap shop and street fair. We are also getting ready to renovate a house that will be used as transitional housing for neighbors, along with space for short-term visitors (www.hyaets.org). Mercy Station (Anderson, AL): We did a ten-day work trip to Fond-desBlancs, Haiti, where we built trusses for a new school, and just completed Forty Days of Water for Lenten Joy. Lettuce, radishes, early potatoes are up, and broccoli and cabbage in the ground. 100-plus tomato seedlings are flourishing. Hear God’s call to care for creation and enjoy the bounty! MOVEyouth (Rutherford, NSW, Australia): MOVEyouth is making radical program and lifestyle changes so we might be more available to youth and families in Pictured above, from left to right: Hyaets, Detroit Villages,Tierra Nueva

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our community. We just had an awesome camping weekend where relationships were strengthened and many were encouraged. One kid there had never heard the message of Jesus before. Please pray for many more of those opportunities for us! (www. moveyouthrutherford.blogspot.com). Mulberry House (Springfield, OH): We are beginning to gear up for our community garden this spring! We are also spearheading a campaign to repeal a local anti-begging law that targets homeless persons in our community. See illegaltoneed. com for more information (www.mulberrycommunity.com). Nehemiah House (Springfield, MA): God continues to bless us mightily. We had a spring project with the local chapter of InterVarsity involving 28 students and staff. We’re grateful for the privilege of hosting these projects.  Also, we’ve had two book studies, and response to the writings has been invigorating (www.nehemiahministries.com). Our Community Farm (New Market, VA): “New Creation Through Cultivation” is a nine-month recovery process hosted by Our Community Farm. We are looking for folks interested in sharing life with the addicted members within the context of a Christian recovery community as they work as apprentices on our sustainable farm. For more information, contact Ken Wettig by e-mail at ourcommunityfarm@gmail.com. Relational Tithe (Oakland, CA): Spring has sprung at Relational Tithe, with new life, energy, and growth. We are excited to welcome more groups within Relational Tithe who are practicing relational redistribution. March 21 marked our annual conference call/video, a chance to connect voices and faces. We are excited about using technology to inform and inspire our living out an economy of abundance. We are eager to hear your stories as well.  Please tell us (at dustin@relationaltithe.com) how you have experimented with economic alternatives in the name of faith— successes and failures, hopes and dreams.  We then share our collective stories on twocents.co. Find us also on Facebook and Twitter (www.relationaltithe.com). Rutba House/School for Conversion (Durham, NC): We’re glad to expand our garden this year into an open lot that had an abandoned house on it. We’re also excited to welcome chickens. We haven’t given up on technology, but we hope the dirt and the chickens can help us remember how to use it well. Servants Vancouver (Vancouver, BC): Servants Vancouver has space for one or two more interns this summer, working with folks struggling with homelessness and addiction. Interns will live in an intentional Christian community with global links, in Downtown Eastside Vancouver, BC.  Contact Tom at tom@servantsasia.org or see our website (www.servantsasia.org). The Book Parlor (Spokane, WA): The Book Parlor is supporting a new nonprofit organization born out of friendship and focused on education, land renewal, and job creation in northern Haiti called Piti Piti (www.pitipiti.org). The Book Parlor is donating the profits from the sales of numerous titles. Visit our website to see the specific titles. Together we can make a difference! (www.TheBookParlor.com). The Simple Way (Philadelphia, PA): Continuing to follow Jesus with small acts of great love and intention! We recently welcomed Sueihn, as a new resident responsible 47


for volunteer coordination, and Christine, an assistant to Shane. We are getting ready for bittersweet farewells as Erica and Aaron near the end of their internships; we love them deeply and will miss them. We released the Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream DVD and Resource Guide, available via our website (www.thesimpleway.org). Tierra Nueva (Skagit Valley, WA): Tierra Nueva, a ministry to migrant workers, jail inmates, and gang members, will launch New Earth Works in late April. This project provides employment to people who have struggled to find or keep work due to cycles of addiction, violence, and poverty. While baking bread, roasting coffee, and growing vegetables, employees receive recovery support and spiritual accompaniment.  Those wishing to support this effort subscribe to product shares online and pick up their fresh bread, coffee, and vegetables on Sunday mornings at one of several local churches.  For more info, visit www.newearthworks.org  (www.tierra-nueva.org). More conspiring communities: Alterna (LaGrange, GA) www.alternacommunity.com Alternative Seminary (Philadelphia, PA) www.alternativeseminary.net Anthony’s Plot (Winston-Salem, NC) www.anthonysplot.org Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN) www.ambs.edu Camden Community Houses (Camden, NJ) Carpenter’s Church (Lubbock, TX) www.carpenterschurchlubbock.org Centurion’s Guild (Honolulu, HI) info@centurionsguild.org Church of the Sojourners (San Francisco, CA) www.churchofthesojourners.org Come Together (Canton, TX) www.cometogethertrading.com DC Area Community of Communities (Washington, DC) www.dc.newmonastics.org East Central Ministries (Albuquerque, NM) www.eastcentralministries.org Faith and Deeds (Santa Rosa, CA) First United Presbyterian Church of Crafton Heights (Pittsburgh, PA) www.chup.org Georgetown College Campus Ministry (Georgetown, KY) wordpress. georgetowncollege.edu/campusministry/ Justus (Sioux Lookout, Ontario) Likewise Books (Westmont, IL) www.ivpress.com Missio Dei Community (St. Petersburg, FL) www.themissiodei.com More Than Thursdays (Oakland, CA) www.thursdaymatters.blogspot.com Reba Place/Shalom Mission Communities (Evanston, IL) www.rebaplacefellowship.org ReIMAGINE! (San Francisco, CA) www.reimagine.org Sacramento Conspirators (Sacramento, CA) Salado United Methodist Church (Salado, TX) www.saladoumc.org San Rafael First UMC (San Rafael, CA) www.sanrafaelfirstumc.org Solomon’s Porch (Minneapolis, MN) www.solomonsporch.com The GAPS Community (Downey, CA) www.downeymoravian.org The Vine (Haverhill, MA) www.thevinehaverhill.com United Church of Milton (Milton, VT) www.unitedchurchofmilton.org University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minneapolis, MN) 48

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