Micah Mandate The Magazine of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice at Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca alumni and students find new neighbors in Napier Trevecca community gathers supplies for Haiti
Chestnut Hill: A Garden of Community
Nashville â€˜street newspaperâ€™ creates income for homeless vendors
Greetings from the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice We are thrilled to publish our first edition of the Micah Mandate! I am proud of the hard work our journalism and informational technology students have put forth to make this publication a success! We are excited to share that our first year as a Center was a major success! The social justice major was fully developed, the Neighborhood Empowerment Program was implemented and study abroad opportunities were identified. The mission of the Center for social justice is to equip college students at Trevecca to challenge the injustices in our world by utilizing their God given talents in concert with their educational training to right injustice. The Micah Mandate provides Trevecca journalism students with exposure to hands on journalism experiences while cultivating their professional writing skills toward exposing social justice issues. As I reflect on the major civil rights movements that challenged the injustice of racism and equality in America, I can’t help to think of the influential role that journalism and media played in exposing these injustices, which significantly contributed to the freedoms American experience today. I worry that our current state of journalism and media outlets do not keep a fair eye on domestic social justice issues that once spurred acts of justice. I am thrilled that through the Center for Social Justice in partnership with the Journalism department, we are training future journalism majors to keep an eye on the injustices that are present in our local communities. Throughout this issue, you will see evidence of student research, photography and articles highlighted throughout the magazine. You will see Trevecca students volunteering throughout the city of Nashville. We have students and alumni choosing a life of downward mobility and moving into low-income neighborhoods. Some of our students and faculty are cultivating urban gardens in these neighborhoods. Also, be sure to check out the reviews of some new books that tackle social justice the issues. These are just a few of the exciting stories you will find in this issue! Jamie Casler
The magazine is a partnership between the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice and the Trevecca journalism program.
Micah Mandate Vol. 1 • No. 1 Spring 2010 Dr. Amy L. Sherman
Senior Founding Consultant for the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice
Director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice
The five-lesson Seek Social Justice Bible Study features Trevecca’s Social Justice Program in lesson one and is available as a free download at www.seeksocialjustice.com.
In Justice 4 • Men of Valor: Former inmate learns to run a business 5 • Trevecca students mentor kids in nearby neighborhoods 6 • Chestnut Hill: A garden of community
JoEllen Werking Weedman Faculty Editorial Supervisor
Rachel Swann Editor
Rachel Brenneman Designer
Writers Adam Wadding Christina Lafferty Morgan Daniels Shadaye Hunnicutt Rachel Swann Contributors Jason Adkins Mary Grace Edwards Contact Information
Social Justice Program featured in Bible study
In This Issue
Micah Mandate 333 Murfreesboro Road Nashville, TN 37210 615-248-1419 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bright Ideas: Nashville 8 • Nashville street newspaper creates income for homeless vendors 9 • Veterans served by operation stand down Nashville 10 • (cover)Trevecca alumni and students find new neighbors in Napier
Justice Abroad 12 • Trevecca community gathers supplies for Haiti 13 • Nazarene missionary turns bamboo into bikes
The Compost 14 • Trevecca professor reflects on the ecology of food
15 • When Helping Hurts examines church’s role in alleviating poverty
On the cover
Cover story photo by Brian Wong. Inset photos from left to right by Morgan Daniels, Rachel Swann, Shadaye Hunnicutt.
•T o read these stories and more check out www.micahmandate.com.
2 Spring 2010
Men of Valor : former inmate learns to run a business By Adam Wadding Sitting in his one windowed cell, Alfred Mason watched as a man walked by day after day. When he finally got the opportunity to speak to the man, he asked why the man paced in front of his cell. The man was a member of the Men of Valor program, and wanted Mason to join too. Mason, 57, a former inmate, has been running his own business again since 2005. The once struggling construction cleanup company is doing more business thanks to training from a spiritual program that helps convicted prisoners stay out of prison once released, and make a difference in their community. Trevecca business professor Roy Philip also helps Mason. He spends his days working with his own construction cleanup business, and helping other ex-cons get back on their feet by offering them to work for him. Incarcerated for drug possession in 2003, Mason quickly took the opportunity to take control of his spiraling downward life, after discovering the Men of Valor program. Men of Valor, an organization founded in 1997, was created to help incarcerated men stay out of jail once released, and to rebuild their life by helping them get education or jobs. “Men of Valor is a highly structured program,” says founder Carl Carlson. The program offers classes, small groups, one on one mentoring and aftercare to the prisoners who are apart of it. “I found out about Men of Valor in August, and was in the program by October,” said Mason.
sor of Business Roy Philip has invited Mason to take his Sales Fundamentalism class for free. “Students’ response to having him in class has been good. He provides real world examples about his own business and how he is applying what he is learning in class,” said Philip, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Trevecca. Philip’s class works with a real business doing sales each semester, and will be working with Mason’s construction cleanup this spring semester, which will help Mason’s business further itself in the city. The class will help teach Mason what is required to make his business as successful as possible.
men wanting to “The change label them-
With the help of this class Mason learned many knew things he missed out on from not having official business lessons in his past, which was a benefit to him and his business. “I’ve grown. The class has given me a huge leap in my life,” said Mason.
selves as being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Founder of Men of Valor
To be a part of the program, the prisoners must have at least one year of time to serve, for that is how long it takes for them to graduate from the program. Prisoners wanting to be a part of Men of Valor, must fill out an application, and are questioned whether or not they really want to be changed for the better of themselves. “The men wanting to change label themselves as being sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Carlson. While in the program, the men are separated from the prisoners that are not involved. They are worked with all day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Mason is now a graduate of the Men of Valor program. He still gives back to the program that changed his life, by providing graduates work with his business that he owns. “My wife thankfully kept the business afloat while I was incarcerated,” said Mason. Men of Valor is a spiritual based program, helping inmates get back into society, with the help from God. The organization’s goal is to bring the men to find Jesus Christ. Also providing the resources needed to find a job once completed with the program. The program is run by the help of many volunteers but also the help of a six man staff, four full time and two part time. Mason explained he was able save his business with the help of the program, and through constant prayer. “If not for God, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Mason.
Mason currently still works with Men of Valor, hiring men from the program and giving them an opportunity to get a job, something that is hard for most that are just getting out of jail. “I’m giving back to something that changed my life by providing work for these men,” said Mason. Mason feels that most men incarcerated deserve a second chance. Many businesses are not willing to take risks on employees with a criminal record, he said.
The Men of Valor program hopes to change these statistics and help keep those convicted out of jail once they are released. “Twenty percent of our men go back to prison, while 80 percent do not,” said Carlson. With a national rate between 67 percent to 72 percent prison return rate, Men of Valor seems to be making a difference in Nashville, said Carlson. “There is hope for 90 percent of the incarcerated, they need to have another chance,” said Mason, “I am thankful God is not a God of just one chance.”
Trevecca students mentor kids in nearby neighborhoods
She sits on the floor, unable to get up because three little girls are all competing for room on her lap. She calms them all down and listens intently as they tell her about their day at school.
Lafoe plans to be a missionary teacher. She believes volunteering with the Y.E.S. Center is helping equip her for future service in missions or in a classroom. “The experience has opened my heart and prepared me to work with different cultures and people from different backgrounds than what I’m used to,” Lafoe explains. Building relationships and working with children are Lafoe’s favorite parts about volunteering with Y.E.S.
Caught in the middle of the chaos is Allison Lafoe, a junior at Trevecca Nazarene University. Children compete to sit in Allison Lafoe’s lap to tell her about their day at school.
Lafoe is one of six students from Trevecca Nazarene University who join more than 50 students from other Nashville area colleges every week to tutor and mentor more than 60 kids from the J.C. Napier and Tony Sudekum communities through Youth Encouragement Services. The Lindsley Center, one of three Youth Encouragement Service (Y.E.S.) centers in Nashville, caters to all students in the Napier community ages 6 through 18. It offers a variety of activities, and for two hours a day children from the Napier community are able to run and play in a safe environment, and also get help with their schoolwork.
“Some days when I’ve had a terrible day at school, I think about not going to the Center. But then I do, and it makes me feel so much better. I don’t know why; kids just make my day brighter,” Lafoe says. Y.E.S.’s purpose is to provide for the needs of underprivileged children living in inner city Nashville by encouraging them to reach their full potential. Through daily programs such as tutoring, computer classes, athletics, and other recreational and cultural activities, low-income children are given a positive alternative to the streets and opportunities for a bright future. In addition to tutoring and other youth activities, worship is offered three times a week. Students there say they enjoy the activities but also rely on the help to keep up their grades at school. “Doing arts and crafts is my favorite activity to do at the Y.E.S. center,” says Tiffany Davis, 11, has attended the program since first grade.
The Napier and Sudekum public housing communities sit down the street from TNU. They are home to more than 2,000 children, most of whom come from single parent homes.
For her it’s more than a place to come and have fun. It’s her motivation to do well in school.
“We’re here to make an impact on these children’s lives by giving them a safe place to go, providing them with the essentials they need, and really, just loving them.” says Daryl Elliot, Director of The Lindsley Center.
Every summer students who have made the honor roll once or more during the year become eligible to go on a special field trip. In past years students have traveled to places such as Chicago and New York.
Volunteers from the surrounding Nashville colleges willingly give up their time every afternoon to tutor the children and act as role models in their lives. Lafoe is one of hundreds of volunteers who have served Y.E.S. since the organization began 10 years ago.
“I’ve always been too young, but I’m hoping to go on the honor roll trip this summer,” says Davis.
Lafoe was introduced to Y.E.S. last October when Rep Your Voice, a club at TNU, went there to work on a video project with the youth. The project aimed at portraying both the good and bad of the Napier community and helping the youth realize ways they could become leaders and change it for the better.
“Honor roll trips are a big incentive. We’ve had some kids that never thought they could make an A work really hard to get to go on one of the trips,” director Elliot reports. Now a 6th grader at Cameron Middle school, Davis comes to the Y.E.S. Center for help in subjects she isn’t quite used to yet, such as science and social studies.
“We finished the project in March but I didn’t want to leave them,” said Lafoe. Now Lafoe drives over to the Napier community Y.E.S. center every Tuesday and Friday to volunteer with kindergarteners and first graders. She helps them complete worksheet packets that cover a range of different subjects the children are studying in school.
This past fall, Mason attended a class at Trevecca Nazarene University. Profes-
4 Spring 2010
By Shadaye Hunnicutt
Inside an old gymnasium about 20 college students sit on the stage awaiting the arrival of the children they tutor every week. Some are finishing up homework, while two prepare snacks for the children. The room is peaceful for those moments until the double doors of the gymnasium fling open and dozens of kids flood in. Basketballs bounce around the room, footballs fly in the air, and one of the little ones is crying because she spilled her juice.
“Last year I was studying social studies and was learning about the Egyptians. One of the volunteers helped me to get the point of the chapter,” Davis recalls. Youth Encouragement Services, a nonprofit, relies heavily on the donations of individuals, corporations and churches. Every year they host two fundraisers – a silent auction and dinner in September and an annual Golf Tournament in April.
Chestnut Hill: a garden of community By Rachel Swann What used to be a vacant lot by yellow lined parking spaces for a school has been turned into a space that feeds dozens of low-income families organic vegetables. The lot has blossomed to be a source of fresh food and flowers for the people of the Chestnut Hill community. Because of the dreams of a couple of Trevecca professors, the Chestnut Hill community, a low-income community, adjacent to the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University, has a green space for a community garden. With the helping hands of some students and faculty associated with the university, the garden has been planted and harvested by community members.
seem incarnational and following Christ,” Adkins said.
the greening of an urban area.
At first, Adkins wasn’t sure what his community’s involvement in the neighborhood would look like. He started attending the neighborhood association meetings and because of his experience with farming through the Son Farm program, a foundation dedicated to assisting fatherless boys through teaching them farming skills, in Whites Creek, an
How it Works
Chestnut Hill community garden provides community members a chance to use gardening as a tool to work together on a community project to improve their neighborhood and a way to grow their own organic produce. “There was no genuinely common area where everybody gardens,” Adkins said.
It is more than a place for them to grow food for their pantries. It is a place for the people to come together with a common mission to grow fresh food and plant the seeds of unity many in the community have been longing to have. The low-income area in southeast Nashville started a community garden in 2009. It is small, but abundant with fresh, organic, homegrown vegetables, herbs and flowers. Working together to harvest food is bringing community members together to make their home a place of sustainability and beauty through their use of the soil. Community gardens are popping up in low-income neighborhoods in the Nashville area, such as east Nashville and Edgehill near Belmont University. The idea is to teach the community members how to grow organic produce in low-income neighborhoods where grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s don’t set up shop. Brent Peadro (top left), Trevecca student and community member, works with Jason Adkins, Trevecca adjunct professor (top right), to prepare the garden for Chestnut Hill Community members to use. (Photos by John Munn.)
Jason Adkins, adjunct professor of Environmental Justice at TNU, and Chris Farrell, biology professor and director of medical technology, have teamed up to grow a community garden at Johnson School for 8-12 graders in Chestnut Hill. Trevecca students volunteer at the garden through Environmental Sustainability Association, a campus club and freshmen LEAP groups. But for now the main mission of the gardens is focused on community development in Chestnut Hill. The idea is to start small but dream big.
“I’m more like the instigator,” Farrell said. He wanted to give this community a beautiful green space to tuck in their memories.
While attending Trevecca Community Church, a year ago, Adkins started believing that the best way to serve the neighborhood he grew up near would be to return there as a neighbor, not just someone who commutes in from the suburbs to help once and a while. He moved his wife and five children into a home that is a part of the Castenea intentional Christian community. The house sits within walking distance from the gardens he helped to initiate. “I did not want to be working with the neighborhood from the outside. It did not
6 Spring 2010
The garden is made of 30 4×8 and 4×12 boxes each lined with cardboard on the bottom, then layered with compost, manure, leaves and straw. This keeps the weeds at a minimum and the ground is never tilled. Some are well maintained throughout the seasons. Others are not.
“I really dislike asking other people not to pick out of the garden,” Adkins said.
“I don’t know much about gardening but I’m learning,” Peadro said as he stood looking at his straw covered box.
Farrell has helped lead the planning process for the Chestnut Hill community garden. He negotiated with the principle at Johnson School to be permitted to use the land next to the parking lot, met with community leaders, and persuaded Home Depot to donate $600 worth of lumber to the project.
area North of Nashville, Adkins was asked by the committee to lead the building of a community garden. It was a community request. Adkins met with Trimble Action Group, the community improvement committee, for more than a year to finalize the project. This garden is one of 18 community gardens in Nashville listed on Nashville.gov, the city of Nashville’s website. According to the American Community Garden Association, a bi-national non-profit membership organization, there are more than 18,000 community gardens across the United States and Canada. Chestnut Hill is one of the latest neighborhoods to bring together a community through
Some compost is from a pile started on Trevecca’s campus. Everyday this past summer Peadro and other students would gather unsellable produce at Nashville Farmers’ Market. What was still edible they used or gave away. The rest was added to the compost pile. Peadro estimated 600 to 1,000 lbs came from Farmers Market each day. The garden is open for anyone to grow food in. A box costs $10.00 a year to rent. There is a sign on the gate with contact information, but word of mouth has been the best advertisement. The garden is a taken care of by individuals, but if people happen to be there at the same time they will help each other out. Adkins has taken it upon himself to teach the gardeners how to use their space efficiently. “I take seeds and help them plant it,” Adkins said, “Each Saturday I’m out there if they have questions.”
The possibility of stealing was expected by Adkins. For a time the now fenced and locked garden was only partly surrounded by the chain link. After food, some not even ripe, was stolen the community members chose to complete the fence. Peadro had three rows of onions growing. Two of his rows were completely gone. “If they really wanted it or needed the food they could have just asked me. I would have given it to them,” Peadro said.
He shares a box with another member of Castenea. Over the past summer and fall his box has sprouted carrots, onions, garlic, parsley, and the most fascinating to him, cherry tomatoes.
For 10 years Farrell has been taking his students to see waste property in the areas surrounding the university. He has the vision to take this land and transform it to be a place of green beauty full of learning opportunities for the community members. He prays that these waste areas will someday be the more than gardens. They will be places of ministry for Trevecca.
Although the garden has been well received, there are some who have taken advantage of the abundance of food hanging from its stems unprotected. The garden has been abused.
This is little to no digging required in small, fenced plot of land used for growing the variety of food that ends up on the tables of 20 to 30 individuals and families in the Chestnut Hill community. The use of lasagna style gardening was chosen. Mimicking the look of lasagna, it is built in layers.
“You can do whatever you want with your box,” Brent Peadro, senior at Trevecca and Castanea community member said.
In the meantime, Adkins went from a Trevecca student who had never even driven through Chestnut Hill to the leader of a community of Christians intentionally living in the neighborhood.
In attempt to solve the problem and keep the integrity of the garden being for the community, Adkins and the other gardeners are considering planting robber gardens. These would be boxes outside of the fence for anyone to come and pick what they need. The boxes inside the fence would remain for the use of the gardeners renting their boxes.
The Harvest “A lot of food came out of this little space,” Adkins said. The final weight of the harvest was not measured, but it is thought that over 1,000 lbs of food was harvested for the community. At least 600 lbs were given away. The community grew sunflowers, carrots, tomatoes, okra, parsley, onions, lettuce, corn, squash and cucumbers, just to list a few. “I don’t know what kind we didn’t grow,” Adkins said. Adkins has used his harvest for meals with his family and for inviting others in the community to come and share the abundance. The winter season did not promise to be as full as the summer but the garden was used. Peadro planted a winter crop of carrots and onions. Others used small hoop houses to protect the contents of their boxes from the cold weather.
The expansion of the garden at Johnson School depends on the demand from the community. With the space the community has permission to use the garden could potentially double in size. Adkins plans to build more boxes and add fruit trees and bushes to add to the variety of what is being produced. Also, more involvement from Trevecca is a long-term goal. The Environmental Justice class taught by Adkins is learning to garden using boxes on campus. This spring they will start to help with the Chestnut Hill garden. Other clubs and groups from the university have already gotten their hands dirty by building boxes and getting them ready for planting. Peadro hopes that Trevecca students will rent boxes to grow food alongside their Chestnut Hill neighbors. “It’s going to get bigger and better,” Adkins said.
To Get Started
• http://www.nashville.gov/community_gardens/ • Chestnut Hill Community Garden - Contact Jason Adkins at (615) 738-7332 for more information
Bright Ideas: Nashville
Bright Ideas: Nashville
Nashville ’street newspaper’ creates income for homeless vendors
Veterans served by Operation Stand Down Nashville By Shadaye Hunnicutt
By Shadaye Hunnicutt The last Wednesday of the month may not mean much to the average person. For 51 ambitious homeless people in Nashville, though, it means they’ll soon be able to restock their toiletries, refill their medicine bottles, and maybe even rent a hotel room for the cold nights ahead.
founded two years ago, no one thought it was going to last more than three months.
These 51 individuals are vendors of the Nashville Contributor, a street newspaper.
Tasha French, director and graphic designer for The Contributor, was doing design work for another publication at the time. But she knew of other street newspapers and realized Nashville needed one.
They are men and women of all different races, all trying to better themselves. In a small room in the back of Downtown Presbyterian Church, they discuss last month’s sales and the contents of this month’s issue.
“I sheltered the idea for a while but then realized I had the contacts and resources and got together with some people to see if we could really make this happen,” she said.
When the meeting is over all the vendors rush up to buy papers. Tom Wills, one of the directors, quickly senses the chaos and orders them to line up in a civilized manner.
For a while, French said, they paid for printing themselves.
The Contributor is one of 27 street newspapers in the nation, but the only one in Nashville.
To make the paper thrive, Wills explained, the directors needed to convince three communities: the faith/activist community, which was supportive but nervous; the business community, which needed to be educated and was concerned about a new wave of pan handlers; and, of course, the homeless themselves. The latter were skeptical of the idea that they could actually sell papers to earn money.
“Street Newspaper” is a term for a newspaper that focuses on the issues surrounding homelessness and poverty and is sold by homeless and formerly homeless individuals on the street as an alternative to panhandling. The Contributor strives to provide a diversity of perspectives and information on homelessness. It highlights the stories of homeless and formerly homeless contributors, while also providing vendors with a source of income.
“Not even the homeless had hope for it,” admitted Ray Ponce De Leon, who has been writing for The Contributor since the first issue, “It was a bit rough because we would lose people because they would get so frustrated.”
“Having something to wake up for everyday is empowering for those who choose to be vendors. And in turn, those who buy the paper get educated and see the vendors–who are homeless–as more than just a stereotype,” Wills said. Vendors of The Contributor buy the papers for a quarter each, then resell them for a dollar. They make an average income of $2.00 a paper with tips. The newspaper has received attention from USA Today and a feature on NewsChannel5 in Nashville.
Theresa P., one of Nashville’s homeless, sells The Contributor on the corner of Broadway. (Photo by Shadaye Hunnicutt)
Inside November’s edition of The Contributor there were articles focusing on what a “home” is, as well as several articles concerning the upcoming cold weather. Each month, the paper sports two pages dedicated to poetry. The Contributor operates with a volunteer staff, and relies on individual donations to stay in production. “We’ve basically been operating a $3,000 organization on a $1,000 budget,” explained Wills. The Downtown Presbyterian Church donates an office and meeting space for the newspaper. “We’ve got a lot of people to thank,” Wills said. According to the directors and two veteran vendors, when the publication was
8 Spring 2010
“We talked to the homeless and told them about it. We started with, like, two vendors and didn’t pick up more until after about a year,” French said.
Everyday 60 to 100 veterans walk through the doors of Operation Stand Down Nashville. “Some come for their mail, others just want a sip of coffee, but most are looking for work,” said Richard Eaton, who works the front desk of the service center at Operation Stand Down.
More than 130 organizations contributed services and supported the event, and 728 volunteers helped to register veterans, serve meals and clean up.
‘Stand Down’ is a military term which describes the movement of soldiers in combat to a safe place. Operation Stand Down is an annual event that started out in San Diego in the 1980’s. Since then the event idea has moved across the United States and now takes place in 125 different cities. Operation Stand Down Nashville was one of the first to turn this part time action into a full-time organization.
Operation Stand Down Nashville succeeds in their original mission to provide social services to honorably discharged veterans, but would still like to expand. In the past they have worked with mainly single men, but are now seeing more and more married couples, and those with children. With that comes different needs and services.
For the past 17 years Operation Stand Down has offered help to hundreds of honorably discharged veterans through its service center, providing healthcare referrals, mail service, computer access and several other free services. The service center takes care of many of the basic needs veterans have, but Operation Stand Down consists of three other main components including: a transitional housing program, an employment center and an annual outreach event.
“The first year we sold about 1,000 papers a month and now we’re at about 6,000 a month. This month we printed 7,000 papers,” reported French.
The Employment Center is one of the most successful programs at OSDN. Veterans receive one-on-one pre-employment readiness training such as interviewing skills, job search, and job retention. The office is equipped with multiple phones, a copy machine and computers to aid them during their job search.
As of November, the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) agreed to be the fiscal sponsor for The Contributor as the paper enters into the final stages of applying for its 501(c)3 taxdeductible status, which will make it an official nonprofit organization.
“They are the only organization that was able to help give me direction during my job search,” said Jerome Sanders, a veteran who served in the Air Force during Vietnam.
Their biggest long-term goal is to be able to hire staff that can devote time to make sure the paper gets laid out and articles organized. Also, by May, staff hopes to increase publication of The Contributor to twice per month. “We’ve been running on a shoestring, but our goal is to make this a sustainable operation,” said Wills.
The Monday after the event 86 veterans went to the Operation Stand Down office. Seventeen received jobs.
The United Way chose OSDN as a partner agency, which will help provide funding for their 2009 $1,180,000 budget. They also received funding from the Armed Services Mutual Benefit Association Foundation and $300,000 in grants from Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program. For more information or to donate visit www.osdnashville.org/
The transitional housing program provides a temporary place for veterans to live. While living in here each veteran participates in a 12-step recovery program to rebuild their lives in preparation for their return to independent living. OSDN has seven houses each with 40 beds, but with growing numbers of veterans they will soon need more.
But, the organization has grown.
“If we can do that, it means we would have put (an estimated) $100,000 in the pockets of our vendors,” said Wills.
This year Operation Stand Down served 426 veterans, the most veterans ever served at the annual event in Nashville. In addition to the usual services provided, each veteran who attended was able to sleep in a safe place for the weekend, eat three solid meals a day and even get a hair cut.
More than 840,000 of the 3.5 million homeless people in America are veterans. Many of them, experts say, have alcohol or drug addictions or suffer from mental illness. Others have both. Operation Stand Down Nashville (OSDN) is a key source dedicated to providing a multitude of services for honorably discharged veterans in Nashville.
“We need more emergency housing for our veterans to keep them off the streets but we also need financial support for our clients to prevent them from becoming homeless again,” Eaton said.
Tom Wills and the rest of The Contributor staff have many other goals for the publication. Among them are to distribute 50,000 papers this year.
The vision statement of OSDN is “Helping the community reestablish ties with veterans.” They believe that it is important for the community to connect ties with their veterans because they were the ones who fought for our freedom when the time came to do so. However, many veterans feel like they are neglected and that there isn’t much help for them in the community. OSDN Executive Director Bill Burligh sums it up like this: “If I place my finger on your forearm you’ll feel it when it makes the initial contact, but after its been sitting there for a while you’ll eventually forget its there, but its still there, and so are our veterans even though they aren’t fighting anymore the community still needs to step up and reconnect.” The three day outreach event is where the community can and is needed to help out. It is held at the Tennessee state guard headquarters on Foster Avenue. During this event veterans who are homeless are provided with social support services such as medical screenings, dental and vision screenings, and legal
Bright Ideas: Nashville
Bright Ideas: Nashville
Trevecca alumni and students find new neighbors in Napier By Rachel Swann Wesley, Tywan, and Darryon, dressed in their Halloween costumes, banged on the door with excitement. A few seconds passed. Impatient, they rapped on the door again. They were reminded to wait politely for someone to come to the door before they approached the next house. They didn’t hear the rules. The boys wanted their candy. Like thousands of other kids on this chilly October night, these three boys were trick-or-treating. But their parents were not with them. Instead, their neighbors–Brian Wong, 22, Andrew Crimmins, 22, and Michael Hendricks, 23–took them as promised to get the coveted candy. Wong says the boys are more than neighbors; he likes to think of them as friends. Several young alumni and current Trevecca Nazarene University students have chosen housing in an intentional Christian community two streets away from the Napier housing projects in Nashville, TN. They tutor neighborhood kids and let them come over to hang out in the afternoons. They work on their motorcycles with the help of a next-door neighbor. The purpose, they say, is simply to live a Christ-like life in a low-income neighborhood and to include the people of that community into their everyday lives. As Wong put it succinctly: “We want to be a good neighbor.” This Nashville fellowship is a part of a bigger national movement of “intentional communities.” These groups all strive for the basic goal of improving the world through teamwork, cooperation, and service. Some are rooted in shared environmental commitments, others in common Christian faith. Wong, Crimmins, and Hendricks moved into a one bedroom, two-bath home in mid-summer. The house sits on a street corner in a neighborhood radically distinct from typical American suburbia. Here the houses are so close it is almost possible to reach through the window of one and touch things in the yard next door. The small home is cram-packed with two bunk beds in one bedroom, guitars, video games, a bicycle, and three couches in the living room–so that there is always room for guests.
Although the idea started as a joke, it was not spontaneous. Little things that occurred throughout his time at Trevecca inspired Crimmins. He met a couple from San Diego living this lifestyle. He attended several social justice conferences and was exposed to the topic of intentional Christian communities there. Also, as he pursued his religion degree, professors Tim Green and Kathy Mowry stimulated his interest in intentional community living. Green helped Crimmins understand how Jesus pursued intentional community with humans, as the incarnation brought Christ into the darkness of our world. Mowry assigned the book Compassion by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison in one of Crimmins’ classes. It described the vital place of compassion in the life of Christians, and offered practical insight about how to apply it as an action and emotion. There are some perks to living in this type of setting. “We are downtown! It’s pretty ridiculous you can rent a house downtown for $700,” Crimmins said.
You don’t know “about the community until you lay your head down on the pillow there.
“The community we are living in has the odds stacked against them educationally, economically, even ecologically,” Hendricks said, “The idea was just moving into their neighborhood and actually being a part of their lives and not being here saying we’re just going to fix things.” The idea for relocating into the house with like-minded guys took shape during Crimmins’ senior year at Trevecca. He remembers first talking about the idea with Wong, a fifth year senior at Trevecca, at a residence hall meeting. Crimmins jokingly said to Wong that they should “live in a big house in the ghetto” after graduation. Then the joke became a serious thought and a true goal for Crimmins and Wong. It was then just a matter of finding other people to join them. Crimmins thought of Hendricks. At the time Hendricks was living in South Carolina and thinking about moving back to Nashville. He had lived in a similar intentional community house for about six months in Atlanta, GA after he graduated from Trevecca in 2008. The fourth roommate, Patrick Jenkins, 23, another Trevecca alumnus, needed a place to live. He was not the original fourth member of the community. But space became available, and Jenkins moved in early fall.
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A Vision Takes Root
But the cheap rent and quick drive to the center of the city are afterthoughts for these guys. They chose to live in a poor and oppressed community. “We need to be good neighbors to people right outside of our gates of Trevecca,” Wong explained.
When deciding where to move the guys discussed safety concerns, but did not dwell on them. Today, they report that they feel very safe and aren’t scared to be living in the inner city. Overall, the guys’ families are supportive of their living situation. Jenkin’s father was impressed with what was being done at the house. Hendrick’s dad spent a night in the house and gave it his approval. Crimmins’ family was nervous. “I sugar coated it (his living situation) for my mom,” Wong admits.
Crimmins and his housemates have all chosen to live at the poverty level. He buys his groceries with food stamps. And the house itself is not of high quality: the water pressure is low and they are accompanied by a number of mice. But the guys don’t dwell on these things. They know their neighbors. They borrow lawn mowers, are comfortable taking food to a neighbor’s home to use their refrigerator when their own is broken and play with the neighborhood kids.
Throughout their time living in the Napier community for the past few months they have gained the trust of their neighbors, Hendricks said. They hosted a barbeque and invited their neighbors and friends from Trevecca. Some of the attendees were people they had never even met.
“I know we get more out of the situation,” Crimmins said, “I am here to learn.”
The kids made the hamburgers.
A neighborhood boy came to the house with his schoolbooks and said he needed help with his homework. As he and Hendricks worked through the assignments they started to talk about the boy’s future plans. He said there were some things about his life he could not change. Hendricks explained to him that life is about choices. This homework time at the house led the boy to start thinking about going to college some day.
“We all place a high level of priority of being neighbors,” Hendricks said. The guys in Napier are not the only intentional Christian community in this area of Nashville. Another group associated with Trevecca is Castanea in Chestnut Hill. Brent Peadro, a Trevecca student, lives here in one of Castanea’s two community houses. Jason Adkins, adjunct professor with the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice at Trevecca, lives this lifestyle with his family in the second house. Adkins’ and Crimmins’ communities have started meeting together every other Wednesday for a time of prayer and to talk about life in the neighborhoods.
They are living the life of a servant, Hendricks said.
“I have fallen in love with this living and could see myself doing this for the rest of my life,” Hendricks said.
“You don’t know about the community until you lay your head down on the pillow there,” Crimmins added. One Saturday after he first moved in, Hendricks was outside on the front porch staining the desks he and the other guys had made for their study room. As he was working, he noticed a group of small boys that kept walking by and staring at him. As their curiosity grew, they would get a little closer each time they passed. Soon they were on the sidewalk right in front of the house. Hendricks looked at them, said hello, and asked if they wanted to help. That broke the ice. Wesley, Tywan, and Darryon stayed and worked with Hendricks on the desks–staining the porch’s white columns, too,
in their exuberance. Now the boys come over several days a week. And they bring friends. “The kids are where our hearts need to be,” Crimmins said.
A Community Within a Community
Shane Claiborne is perhaps the best-known Christian in the intentional communities movement. His community in Philadelphia, The Simple Way, is part of the New Monastics network. After moving into the Napier community, Crimmins and his buddies held a meeting to discuss how their house would function. They decided that although the rhythms of their lives together would be similar to those of The Simple Way, they would not actually adopt the full New Monastics model. Each member in the Napier house has his own responsibility–chores, finances, repairs, or organizing the house. But they each have different schedules. Two of the guys work and the others work and are in school. But they are intentional about spending time together. They try to have at least one meal a week together to talk and have “family” time. Wong with neighborhood kids Tywan and Darryon (Photo from Brian Wong.)
“We wanted this to be our home,” Hendricks said, “There is no limit to the types of things we could do as a group.”
Trevecca community gathers supplies for Haiti
Nazarene missionary turns bamboo into bikes
By Morgan Daniels Students put together care packages for the One Bag Many Hands project. (Photo by Morgan Daniels.)
By Adam Wadding
Trevecca students, faculty and staff, with the help of the local community, have donated around $800 and supplied items for more than 300 care kits to be sent to Haiti. In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the capital of the impoverished nation in January, the Trevecca community has been eager to find ways to offer relief to Haitians.
While riding his bike through the countryside of Northern Thailand, Phil Webb asked the Lord to show him a way to help the struggling people of Thailand.
Stalks of bamboo ready to be used to make bicycles. (Photo by Phil Webb.)
As he continued riding, Webb couldn’t help but notice the abundant amount of wild bamboo flourishing along the roadsides. That’s when he felt the Holy Spirit telling him to turn that bamboo into bicycles for Thailand’s poor.
Most of the university’s efforts have been coordinated through the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.
“By teaching and training the people in need how to build these bikes themselves, the funding gained by selling them can meet (their) needs,” Webb explains.
The Center, with help from the Office of the Chaplain, partnered with Heart to Heart International, an organization that specializes in disaster relief through the use of medical supplies, in order to provide care kits that will accompany the medical supplies delivered to Haiti.
Webb, a member of Greenville First Church of the Nazarene in Greenville, South Carolina, has been serving as a missionary in Thailand since 2005.
“One component of the center is to be globally-minded. The situation in Haiti allows us to take action on this global front,” Casler said.
After he came up with the idea for a bamboo bike, Webb wondered whether it was actually possible to make one. With some research, he discovered that several organizations had already begun manufacturing them.
The idea to create the program called “One Bag, Many Hands,” came about as the Center was looking for ways to reach out to Haiti immediately. The project allows anyone to donate money, loose items for kits, or complete care kits.
Bamboo bike enterprises are becoming increasingly popular ways of generating revenue for low-income families in some African and Asian countries. Encouraged by their success, Webb decided to launch his own venture in Thailand. Currently he is seeking partners to provide capital to enable the new business to become a viable means of securing financial independence for the impoverished families he ministers among.
“I really wanted this campaign to show that we can all help or contribute no matter how big or small,” Jamie Casler said. “This is a way for everyone on campus to make a difference.” Students, staff and faculty donated items including washcloths, shampoo, toothbrushes and soap to be bagged and shipped to the Heart to Heart headquarters in Kansas City. From there the bags will be shipped with other medical supplies to Heart to Heart working in Haiti.
“Working with a Thai friend who builds bamboo furniture, I gleaned many facts about types of bamboo and which would be best to use,” Webb says.
Trevecca students donated more than $350 and various offices on campus donated many of the fully completed kits. Harding Academy, a school in the Belle Meade area of Nashville, also donated 110 kits to Trevecca’s campaign.
After learning all he could about the bike-making craft, Webb started focusing on operational issues. Although bamboo is in plentiful supply in Thailand and neighboring countries, other necessary materials, machined from metal, would need to be shipped in from Western countries.
WNAZ, Trevecca’s radio station, partnered with Lifeway Christian Stores. Two drives were held at Lifeway locations in Cool Springs and downtown, inviting listeners to participate in the “One Bag, Many Hands” project.
“It was a little more time-consuming and tougher process than in Western civilization,” Webb admits.
“People participated by bringing in needed items or just cash,” David Queen, general manager of WNAZ, said. Tera Kurtz, Trevecca’s Americore VISTA worker in the center for social justice, coordinated the project. She hopes the care kits will be sent to Heart to Heart by at least early March.
Phil Webb and sons, Micah and Jeremy work together on a bamboo bicycle. (Photo by Phil Webb.)
“It’s good we are sending things out late because they are definitely going to need things for a really long time,” Kurtz said.
Webb met with bicycle enthusiasts and bicycle shops throughout South Carolina. His bamboo bicycle—only the second one he and his sons had produced–was taken through some serious road tests. The bike functioned well.
Erin Greer, a freshman at Trevecca, came up with the idea to sell bracelets in support for Haiti. The bracelets would say “Pray for Haiti” and would be sold for $1 each. The money raised would be donated to Haiti relief efforts.
The testing marked phase one of Webb’s dream. Phase two of the process involves setting up a modest production facility in Thailand. Webb’s bamboo furniture-making friend, Khun Sayam, is his onsite partner. Together, they hope to teach poor Thai citizens to produce bikes so that they will eventually use them as their personal means of income. So far, their enterprise has designed two models–the Thai Silk and the Thai Hilltribe. They called their product line “Thai” because the word means “freedom.” Webb intends that his bamboo bikes will provide freedom from poverty—by providing people with a new means of income generation, and a new form of transportation. The plan is to sell the bikes online through the company’s website and guide the locals to begin their own bamboo bicycle businesses.
Closer to home, Trevecca is also taking care of their own. Money was also raised for Haitian student Elijah Brice, whose family and friends are still in Haiti. The money raised for Brice will go towards sending him home to Haiti.
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This past summer, Webb and his family (including son Micah, a student at Trevecca Nazarene University) returned to the United States. He had learned that bamboo bikes have a market not only in developing countries, but also in America. They appeal to environmentally friendly consumers, since bamboo is a natural resource. But it’s not just green – it works. Bamboo is actually stronger and more sustainable than steel.
“The Bible tells us to feed, clothe, visit, and give water to those in need. This project is one way, I feel, that I can do just that,” Webb said. Finished bamboo bicycle. (Photo by Phil Webb.)
Trevecca professor reflects on the ecology of food By Jason Adkins In our Projects in Environmental Justice class, I find it hard to get away from projects and lectures concerning gardening and farming. I can’t help myself; it’s just something that’s been heavily on my mind in the recent decade. But perhaps, it’s not a bad place to linger because the most immediate door to creation care is through our daily bread. Wendell Berry reminds us that, “Eating is an agricultural act . . . and how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.” How, then, is the world being used?According to an Environmental Protection Agency study conducted eleven years ago, 59% of river pollution was due to Jason Adkins farm runoff (chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other waste); 31% of lake and pond pollution was also attributed to agriculture. Along with this deadly soup of chemicals, half of the topsoil in the U. S. has been washed down our rivers due to the erosion inherent in our way of growing food over the last century. Yes, half. 90% of our farms are losing soil to erosion faster than they can replace it. Industrial agriculture, therefore, has come to resemble a form of mining. This irreplaceable topsoil washes down our great rivers to the Gulf of Mexico—bringing along with it the excess nitrogen from chemical fertilizers where it creates one of the
world’s top ten largest hypoxic zones—an expanse in the water the size of New Jersey where nothing can live. And it’s growing.
When Helping Hurts examines church's role in alleviating poverty Review of When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett (Moody, 2009). Reviewed by Mary Grace Edwards
To understand this degradation, one must appreciate the role of oil in modern agriculture. The production, transportation, and preservation of food are all energy intensive. On the wings of fossil fuels, our cities reach over capable local landscapes toward distant farms in order to extract food whose trip to our tables now averages a distance of 1,400 miles. Today, ten calories of fossil fuel are expended for each calorie of food we produce. What does not seem to be very seriously, or at least very widely, considered is that these dubious freedoms from labor and place brought to us by industrial agriculture are floating on a sinking sea of petroleum.
Forty percent of the world’s inhabitants are living on less than two dollars a day. From the slums of Calcutta to the housing project a few miles from your front door, poverty is everywhere. Thankfully, some are taking action to recognize and help the poor. But what happens when our good intentions are only making things worse? What if for all of our efforts, we are only keeping the poor poor? And how can we recognize if this is happening? This is the question tackled by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor.
Environmentalism has long been considered the domain of “nature lovers”— crunchy folks or rich folks interested in keeping wild places untouched and unspoiled, free from any trace of human imprint. This view, however, neglects the practical harmony that must be forged between human culture and the rest of creation in order for both to exist in health. While I treasure the preservation of wild places, we are clearly in need of a more comprehensive environmental ethic, capable of imagining a harmonious relationship between human industry, farming, housing, water use, play, and transportation. Following that first vocation given by God to tend and protect the garden, it may yet be that faithful ways of growing food will open up new possibilities for a creative relationship with the rest of creation. Jason Adkins is an adjunct professor in Environmental Studies at Trevecca Nazarene Univeristy.
Clearly, all Christ followers are called to share God’s heart for the poor. Given our relative level of wealth, North American Christians have particular responsibility. When Helping Hurts focuses specifically on the role the church should play. From a deep well of experience, the authors—both professors at the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College–examine both domestic and international poverty. They discuss Biblical principles and theology, share stories from the front lines, and offer practical advice. Fikkert and Corbett believe that successful poverty alleviation must be grounded in a Biblical understanding of poverty. They explain poverty as the result of the brokenness in the four key relationships: with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. Poverty, therefore, is “the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings” (62). This definition contrasts with the one that is typical for most North Americans. We tend to see poverty primarily in terms of material lack. As a result, we respond by offering more material resources. This treats only symptoms. But that’s not the only problematic consequence. From a Biblical definition of poverty, we are all poor—since none of us enjoys a perfect relationship of shalom with God, self, others, or the earth. The failure to recognize this has created an us-them dichotomy. By focusing on meeting the physical needs of the poor, the authors argue, we exacerbate the poor’s feelings of inferiority while puffing our own false pride at being “non-poor.” At that point, “helping” actually hurts. What the “helpers” need, Fikkert and Corbett explain, is an ownership of their own spiritual and psychological poverty and a greater sensitivity to the fundamental need of reconciling broken relationships. Our faith becomes central in effective poverty alleviation efforts since we all need Jesus to restore our “poverty of being.” Our poverty-fighting efforts, fully informed by a Biblical understanding, become centered on the ministry of reconciliation. Our goal is to restore people to humanness and dignity by moving them toward reconciliation in their relationships with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. From this
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perspective, Corbett and Fikkert then go on to define material poverty alleviation as working to reconcile these four relationships “so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work” (78). In the second section of the book, Corbett and Fikkert lay out the key strategies needed for effective material poverty alleviation. First they walk readers through the critical differences between relief, rehabilitation, and development. They lament that “one of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make—by far—is in applying relief in situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention” (105). By explaining the circumstances necessary for each response, the authors instruct churches on how to appropriately respond to people in different situations of need. The point is to ask the right questions in order to accurately diagnose the situation and determine if relief— or something else—is the best response. When Helping Hurts also provides a useful, accessible discussion of “Asset Based Community Development” (ABCD). This paradigm–which emerged from secular thinkers but has been tweaked and adopted by a number of forward-thinking Christians engaged in frontline ministry–starts with the gifts and resources that poor people already have, rather than with their needs. Such an approach comports with the Bible’s affirmation of the human dignity of all people, including the poor, and its call to all humans to be good stewards. People’s needs, and the community problems, will surface soon enough. By focusing on what is right first, we protect the dignity of the materially poor. It also serves as a guard against possible paternalism by the non-poor. The authors further emphasize that churches need to move away from ministry “to” or “for” communities to ministry “with” them. Not many churches excel at this, so there will be learning process needed over time. Moreover, as Corbett and Fikkert explain, there is no easy blueprint right for all circumstances. Each church will have to discern with their neighbors how best to create avenues that allow the poor to participate in all aspects of the poverty alleviation plans. The final section of the book takes an unflinching look at one of the most common ways many individual church members first come face to face with poverty: the short-term mission trip. Western “short-termers” can fall into a number of errors: failing to recognize cultural differences; holding to a material view of poverty; being blind to the non-material dimensions of poverty; acting in paternalistic ways (such as assuming our methods are the best); and being far too quick to give money in situations where money really isn’t the best response. This section feels the most empowering to readers because it provides practical and doable advice on how to implement principles that benefit the poor. For example, the authors offer suggestions on how to go about funding short-term mission trips and they encourage groups to consider doing activities on the ground that support long-term development strategies such as micro-financing (rather than engaging in mere relief-oriented activities). Corbett and Fikkert have written a book that challenges how many Christians think about and do ministry with the poor. The book could come off sounding overly critical, but the authors take time to honestly point out the ways in which they personally have made mistakes over the years. That humble candor— combined with their vast experience in frontline ministry both in the USA and abroad—creates a tone that stirs an equal balance of healthy repentance and renewed, refocused action. The book’s many interactive exercises also help in creating a sense of hope—that despite previous errors, we can learn how to do this work better. The pre- and post-chapter reflection questions are thoughtful and should prompt good discussion when the book is used in a small group setting. Overall, readers of When Helping Hurts will take away a deeper understanding of their own poverty and need for restoration as well as a greater sense of calling about how to engage in poverty alleviation effectively. Mary Grace Edwards is a Research Assistant for Dr. Amy Sherman, the Senior Founding Consultant for the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.
www.micahmandate.com Spring 2010