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Beyond False Dichotomies

February 17, 2015 1 Comment 10

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving Ferguson and Eric Garner. Arguments have been made from multiple angles on how best to consider these issues. One argument in particular seems to have become somewhat popular. As stated by one blogger, the real issue today is that "the black community is in a tragic state of self destruction." The "real problems" are that black people are killing other people, that black kids are being born to unwed mothers, and that black children are growing up without fathers. Therefore, if "black fathers simply stayed home and raised their own children, a lot of these issues would go away." Do you see the basic shape of this argument? The focus is shifted away from considering whether there are any social or institutional injustices and what their potential impact might be on African Americans. Instead, we are admonished to focus our energy on dysfunction happening at the family or individual level. Moral and cultural dysfunction is set against social or institutional injustice. Injustices happening at this larger level, if there are any, are dismissed out of hand; the only thing that will really make things better is if we deal solely with the excessive criminal behavior and lack of morality among African Americans. As I considered these lines of thought, I wondered if others had made arguments like these before. It turns out, as the writer of Ecclesiastes has put it, "there is nothing new under the sun." This type of argument has indeed been made before. Consider, for example, the Atlanta riots of 1906. A mob of white men and boys swept through Atlanta, killing and wounding blacks throughout the city and destroying property. The riots were justified in the...

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving Ferguson and Eric Garner. Arguments have been made from multiple angles on how best to consider these issues. One argument in particular seems to have become somewhat popular. As stated by one blogger, the real issue today is that "the black community is in a tragic state of self destruction." The "real problems" are that black people are killing other people, that black kids are being born to unwed mothers, and that black children are growing up without fathers. Therefore, if "black fathers simply stayed home and raised their own children, a lot of these issues would go away." Do you see the basic shape of this argument? The focus is shifted away from considering whether there are any social or institutional injustices and what their potential impact might be on African Americans. Instead, we are admonished to focus our energy on dysfunction happening at the family or individual level. Moral and cultural dysfunction is set against social or institutional injustice. Injustices happening at this larger level, if there are any, are dismissed out of hand; the only...

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving Ferguson and Eric Garner. Arguments have been made from multiple angles on how best to consider these issues. One argument in particular seems to have become somewhat popular. As stated by one blogger, the real issue today is that "the black community is in a tragic state of self destruction." The "real problems" are that black people are killing other people, that black kids are being born to unwed mothers, and that black children are growing...

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving Ferguson and Eric Garner. Arguments have been made from multiple angles on how best to consider these issues. One argument in particular seems to have become...

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving...

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months on issues related to race and justice, sparked by the recent events involving Ferguson and Eric Garner. Arguments have been made from multiple angles on how best to consider these issues. One argument in particular seems to have become somewhat popular. As stated by one blogger, the real issue today is that "the black community is in a tragic state of self destruction." The "real problems" are that black people are killing other people, that black kids are being born to unwed mothers, and that black children are growing...

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Q Commons Returns to Phoenix

February 12, 2015 No Comments 11

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now, Q Commons is returning to town on February 26 at Redemption Alhambra, so I followed up with Steven on the first event and asked him what we can expect from the next one. FP: What positive developments have come from the Q Commons event you hosted last fall? SS: After our inaugural Q Commons we underestimated how much people really wanted to carry on the conversation. It was inspiring to see how much people care about our city and it seems everyone that attended the last Q Commons was looking for a way to engage themselves in the future flourishing of the greater Phoenix metro area. One of the good things that came from our first meeting together was introducing people to other like-minded individuals. I can't even begin to measure how those synergies contributed to newfound relationships or inspired new ideas. As great as that initial gathering was, I think at this Q Commons we are much better prepared to either get people engaged in exciting initiatives or encourage them to continue pursuing the common good through the relationships they'll undoubtedly make. For example, we have established a Facebook page specifically for Phoenix that we will be posting to consistently with thought provoking articles and local opportunities. We've also invited speakers that will have very specific take-home points that our audience can engage in immediately following the event. I'm hoping to see the friendships continue to flourish, while also getting our audience to practically engage in helpful projects throughout our city. Q Commons Email Header FP: Tell us about the speakers you've invited to present at the upcoming event. What were you looking...

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now, Q Commons is returning to town on February 26 at Redemption Alhambra, so I followed up with Steven on the first event and asked him what we can expect from the next one. FP: What positive developments have come from the Q Commons event you hosted last fall? SS: After our inaugural Q Commons we underestimated how much people really wanted to carry on the conversation. It was inspiring to see how much people care about our city and it seems everyone that attended the last Q Commons was looking for a way to engage themselves in the future flourishing of the greater Phoenix metro area. One of the good things that came from our first meeting together was introducing people to other like-minded individuals. I can't even begin to measure how those synergies contributed to newfound relationships or inspired new ideas. As great as that initial gathering was, I think at this Q Commons we are much better prepared to either get people engaged in exciting initiatives or encourage them to continue pursuing the common good through the...

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now, Q Commons is returning to town on February 26 at Redemption Alhambra, so I followed up with Steven on the first event and asked him what we can expect from the next one. FP: What positive developments have come from the Q Commons event you hosted last fall? SS: After our inaugural Q Commons we underestimated how much people really wanted to carry on the conversation. It was inspiring to see how much people care about our city...

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now, Q Commons is returning to town on February 26 at Redemption Alhambra, so I followed up with Steven on the first event and asked him...

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now,...

Last fall, Q Commons came to Phoenix, and in the weeks leading up to it, I interviewed Steven Siwek, the host of the event. Now, Q Commons is returning to town on February 26 at Redemption Alhambra, so I followed up with Steven on the first event and asked him what we can expect from the next one. FP: What positive developments have come from the Q Commons event you hosted last fall? SS: After our inaugural Q Commons we underestimated how much people really wanted to carry on the conversation. It was inspiring to see how much people care about our city...

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In Search of Changemakers

February 10, 2015 No Comments 11

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw a Super Bowl into the mix and the masses arrive here in droves! While this boost in tourism brings much bounty to many, I still see the city’s most vulnerable in my travels. Most people who visit our state don’t know that one in four children aren’t sure if they will get a meal tonight. While Arizona educational rankings are always near the bottom of the leaderboard, most of us don’t take into account that children who haven’t received proper food and nutrition can’t possibly score well on tests or master their reading skills. Those who fall behind are more likely to drop out of high school, and needless to say, these trends inevitably cripple the Arizona workforce. I am ashamed to say that I have lived most of my life in a city I knew little about. That changed in 2006 when a friend of mine, a school principal in the neighborhood where I grew up, opened my eyes to the poverty and hunger that hide just beyond our view. I learned more after attending Valley Leadership presentations on education in Arizona and another event with Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton. These events tied hunger to education struggles to lack of opportunities for all too many Arizonans. Over the last few years through the work of Kitchen on the Street, a nonprofit my husband and I founded, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people who see an issue and take action to resolve it. Sometimes these issues — hunger, poverty, illiteracy, teen pregnancy, sex trafficking, and addiction — seem too big for any one person to tackle. But when we join forces, we see that everyone...

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw a Super Bowl into the mix and the masses arrive here in droves! While this boost in tourism brings much bounty to many, I still see the city’s most vulnerable in my travels. Most people who visit our state don’t know that one in four children aren’t sure if they will get a meal tonight. While Arizona educational rankings are always near the bottom of the leaderboard, most of us don’t take into account that children who haven’t received proper food and nutrition can’t possibly score well on tests or master their reading skills. Those who fall behind are more likely to drop out of high school, and needless to say, these trends inevitably cripple the Arizona workforce. I am ashamed to say that I have lived most of my life in a city I knew little about. That changed in 2006 when a friend of mine, a school principal in the neighborhood where I grew up, opened my eyes to the poverty and hunger that hide just beyond our view. I learned more after attending Valley...

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw a Super Bowl into the mix and the masses arrive here in droves! While this boost in tourism brings much bounty to many, I still see the city’s most vulnerable in my travels. Most people who visit our state don’t know that one in four children aren’t sure if they will get a meal tonight. While Arizona educational rankings are always near the bottom of the leaderboard, most of us don’t take into account that children...

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw a Super Bowl into the mix and the masses arrive here in droves! While this boost in tourism brings much bounty to many, I still see...

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw...

Living in Phoenix this time of year is incredible. Barrett-Jackson and the Waste Management Open are electrifying events that provide incredible entertainment and fun. Throw a Super Bowl into the mix and the masses arrive here in droves! While this boost in tourism brings much bounty to many, I still see the city’s most vulnerable in my travels. Most people who visit our state don’t know that one in four children aren’t sure if they will get a meal tonight. While Arizona educational rankings are always near the bottom of the leaderboard, most of us don’t take into account that children...

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Reflections on a Pilgrimage

January 15, 2015 No Comments 10

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our first placement, an 11-month-old Native American boy. When our sweet and rambunctious little man showed up at our door, I realized two things very quickly. First, I realized how quickly your heart can attach to a kid. We aren’t even aiming to adopt him, just fostering him in hopes of being a part of his family getting back together. But it didn’t take long to love him with the same part of my heart that I love Amy, Kailey, and David. Second, I realized that I didn’t know anything at all about Native culture. I didn’t know if we were supposed to refer to them as “Indians” or “Native Americans.” I didn’t know the difference between tribes. In fact, most of my understanding of Native American culture would fit into the categories of “unhelpful-at-best” and “straight-racist-at-worst” stereotypes. Fast forward three months to Thanksgiving and our family’s feast featured Indian fry bread and mutton stew on a mountain outside of Fort Defiance on the Navajo Nation reservation. Not your traditional way to commemorate that first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims and Indians sat down and enjoyed rich, trusting fellowship together. But here is how we ended up on the road to the Rez. 1. A few weeks before Halloween, Amy came to me and suggested our whole family dress up like Indians to honor Sammy and make him feel at home. I love her heart. Her method may be a bit off. And by a bit off I mean “not even close.” But I love her heart! She is wanting to be culturally sensitive and help him identify with his culture. I wanted to nurture this kind of heart in my...

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our first placement, an 11-month-old Native American boy. When our sweet and rambunctious little man showed up at our door, I realized two things very quickly. First, I realized how quickly your heart can attach to a kid. We aren’t even aiming to adopt him, just fostering him in hopes of being a part of his family getting back together. But it didn’t take long to love him with the same part of my heart that I love Amy, Kailey, and David. Second, I realized that I didn’t know anything at all about Native culture. I didn’t know if we were supposed to refer to them as “Indians” or “Native Americans.” I didn’t know the difference between tribes. In fact, most of my understanding of Native American culture would fit into the categories of “unhelpful-at-best” and “straight-racist-at-worst” stereotypes. Fast forward three months to Thanksgiving and our family’s feast featured Indian fry bread and mutton stew on a mountain outside of Fort Defiance on the Navajo Nation reservation. Not your traditional way to commemorate that first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims...

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our first placement, an 11-month-old Native American boy. When our sweet and rambunctious little man showed up at our door, I realized two things very quickly. First, I realized how quickly your heart can attach to a kid. We aren’t even aiming to adopt him, just fostering him in hopes of being a part of his family getting back together. But it didn’t take long to love him with the same part of my heart that I...

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our first placement, an 11-month-old Native American boy. When our sweet and rambunctious little man showed up at our door, I realized two things very quickly. First,...

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our...

We got licensed for foster care several months ago on a Monday. On Tuesday afternoon the state workers stood at our front door with our first placement, an 11-month-old Native American boy. When our sweet and rambunctious little man showed up at our door, I realized two things very quickly. First, I realized how quickly your heart can attach to a kid. We aren’t even aiming to adopt him, just fostering him in hopes of being a part of his family getting back together. But it didn’t take long to love him with the same part of my heart that I...

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An Invitation to Lament

January 13, 2015 3 Comments 10

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It was a huge celebration. But in many ways 2014 was a difficult and painful year, especially for minority communities in the United States of America. Ferguson, Eric Garner, failed immigration reform, the US Senate report on torture. We watched hunger strikes on Capitol Hill, protests in NYC, shut down freeways in northern California, and thousands of African Americans crying out in pain, desperately trying to remind our leaders and our nation that #BlackLivesMatter. Time and time again we were reminded that racism and dehumanization are integral parts of the fabric of our country. Many people have been asking what can be done, and how these issues can be addressed. New policies, better education, and higher quality training are all ideas that have been floated. Unfortunately, while these ideas are well-intentioned, I fear they are woefully inadequate. I believe the problem facing our nation is rooted in our belief in our own exceptionalism. American-cow I have spent much of 2014 studying and speaking about the Doctrine of Discovery. This is a troubling doctrine that came out of the Catholic Church through a series of Papal Bulls written in the 15th Century. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V wrote the following words in a Papal Bull: . . . invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and...

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It was a huge celebration. But in many ways 2014 was a difficult and painful year, especially for minority communities in the United States of America. Ferguson, Eric Garner, failed immigration reform, the US Senate report on torture. We watched hunger strikes on Capitol Hill, protests in NYC, shut down freeways in northern California, and thousands of African Americans crying out in pain, desperately trying to remind our leaders and our nation that #BlackLivesMatter. Time and time again we were reminded that racism and dehumanization are integral parts of the fabric of our country. Many people have been asking what can be done, and how these issues can be addressed. New policies, better education, and higher quality training are all ideas that have been floated. Unfortunately, while these ideas are well-intentioned, I fear they are woefully inadequate. I believe the problem facing our nation is rooted in our belief in our own exceptionalism. American-cow I have spent much of 2014 studying and speaking about the Doctrine of Discovery. This is a troubling...

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It was a huge celebration. But in many ways 2014 was a difficult and painful year, especially for minority communities in the United States of America. Ferguson, Eric Garner, failed immigration reform, the US Senate report on torture. We watched hunger strikes on Capitol Hill, protests in NYC, shut down freeways in northern California, and thousands of African Americans crying out in pain, desperately trying to remind our leaders and our nation that #BlackLivesMatter. Time and time...

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It was a huge celebration. But in many ways 2014 was a difficult and painful year, especially for minority communities in the United States of America. Ferguson,...

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It...

As the ball dropped and the clock struck midnight, crowds cheered, fireworks exploded, couples kissed, balloons fell, and a New Year was rung in. It was a huge celebration. But in many ways 2014 was a difficult and painful year, especially for minority communities in the United States of America. Ferguson, Eric Garner, failed immigration reform, the US Senate report on torture. We watched hunger strikes on Capitol Hill, protests in NYC, shut down freeways in northern California, and thousands of African Americans crying out in pain, desperately trying to remind our leaders and our nation that #BlackLivesMatter. Time and time...

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Architecture as Response

January 6, 2015 1 Comment 8

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely translated as "in the presence of God," this is a concept from Christian theology that summarizes the idea of living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. This is primarily based on the idea that we are created beings; therefore, we can recognize that all activities of our lives can be God-honoring activities when they are seen as a form of worship. This includes all forms of our creative work. Accepting that we are God’s creation, made in his image, everything we create is a byproduct of the creator’s work. Thus, even in its imperfect reality, our creative works are God-honoring works of worship. Creation Mandate In Genesis 1:28, we were called to create culture and fulfill the creation mandate. This means we are called to care for and to cultivate the earth, making things with the materials and ingenuity we have been given. This creation mandate is fulfilled each day when we make our cities better places to live and dwell. Enacted Space Many architects can come up with attractive ideas, but very few can design places or spaces that actually attract people or create a profound experience with the built realm. Enacted space refers to the dynamic interaction between people and artifacts in a place through time. [caption id="attachment_1992" align="alignleft" width="800"]bicycle haus 01_timmerman Bicycle Haus in Scottsdale (Photo by Bill Timmerman)[/caption] Culture Shaping The living of your life is not only shaped by the built realm, but also shapes the built realm. We have been given the opportunity to engage and shape culture around us.  Movies, literature, and music shape our cultural landscape, but architects...

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely translated as "in the presence of God," this is a concept from Christian theology that summarizes the idea of living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. This is primarily based on the idea that we are created beings; therefore, we can recognize that all activities of our lives can be God-honoring activities when they are seen as a form of worship. This includes all forms of our creative work. Accepting that we are God’s creation, made in his image, everything we create is a byproduct of the creator’s work. Thus, even in its imperfect reality, our creative works are God-honoring works of worship. Creation Mandate In Genesis 1:28, we were called to create culture and fulfill the creation mandate. This means we are called to care for and to cultivate the earth, making things with the materials and ingenuity we have been given. This creation mandate is fulfilled each day when we make our cities better places to live and dwell. Enacted Space Many architects can come up with...

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely translated as "in the presence of God," this is a concept from Christian theology that summarizes the idea of living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. This is primarily based on the idea that we are created beings; therefore, we can recognize that all activities of our lives can be God-honoring activities when they are seen as a form of worship. This includes all forms...

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely translated as "in the presence of God," this is a concept from Christian theology that summarizes the idea of living in the presence of, under...

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely...

In order to establish the importance of architecture in our cities, it is important that we first establish some foundational beliefs. Coram Deo A Latin phrase loosely translated as "in the presence of God," this is a concept from Christian theology that summarizes the idea of living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. This is primarily based on the idea that we are created beings; therefore, we can recognize that all activities of our lives can be God-honoring activities when they are seen as a form of worship. This includes all forms...

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Celebrating Unsung Heroes

December 31, 2014 No Comments 7

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for the better, and ours is no exception. But while we rightly celebrate the revitalization of urban cores like downtown Phoenix—signified by hip cafés, luxury condos, award-winning restaurants, and the like—it would be a mistake to overlook how the suburbs are changing as well. Earlier this year, we linked to a Politico magazine story about the suburbanization of poverty in metro Atlanta, which invited the haunting question: “What happens when poverty spreads to a place that wasn’t built for poor people?” It’s a question that anyone who cares about human flourishing simply has to reckon with. I was reminded of this question while reading a new essay published by The Economist, which considers, among other metro areas, the changing face of the less-than-glamorous Phoenix suburbs: America’s suburbs are not withering, but many of them have changed, in ways that can seem disturbing. Recent events have made Ferguson a distressing example. It is a suburb that has become mostly black but which retains a mostly white power structure, parts of which strike its black residents as oppressive. Still, other suburbs have adapted more easily. Among them is Levittown in New Jersey, studied by the sociologist Herbert Gans in 1958. When it was built, blacks were banned from living there. It is now known as Willingboro Township and is three-quarters black. One of the biggest, oldest and poorest suburban developments in America is Maryvale, in Phoenix. It was built at great speed in the 1950s and sold just as quickly. But many of its white inhabitants fled in the 1980s following a strange cluster of leukaemia cases. Maryvale is now home to around 200,000 people, roughly three-quarters of whom are Hispanic....

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for the better, and ours is no exception. But while we rightly celebrate the revitalization of urban cores like downtown Phoenix—signified by hip cafés, luxury condos, award-winning restaurants, and the like—it would be a mistake to overlook how the suburbs are changing as well. Earlier this year, we linked to a Politico magazine story about the suburbanization of poverty in metro Atlanta, which invited the haunting question: “What happens when poverty spreads to a place that wasn’t built for poor people?” It’s a question that anyone who cares about human flourishing simply has to reckon with. I was reminded of this question while reading a new essay published by The Economist, which considers, among other metro areas, the changing face of the less-than-glamorous Phoenix suburbs: America’s suburbs are not withering, but many of them have changed, in ways that can seem disturbing. Recent events have made Ferguson a distressing example. It is a suburb that has become mostly black but which retains a mostly white power structure, parts of which strike its black residents as oppressive. Still, other...

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for the better, and ours is no exception. But while we rightly celebrate the revitalization of urban cores like downtown Phoenix—signified by hip cafés, luxury condos, award-winning restaurants, and the like—it would be a mistake to overlook how the suburbs are changing as well. Earlier this year, we linked to a Politico magazine story about the suburbanization of poverty in metro Atlanta, which invited the haunting question: “What happens when poverty spreads to a place that wasn’t...

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for the better, and ours is no exception. But while we rightly celebrate the revitalization of urban cores like downtown Phoenix—signified by hip cafés, luxury condos,...

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for...

To many, Phoenix is known for its sprawling suburbs—and that reputation has seldom been seen as a good thing. But metro areas are changing, in many ways for the better, and ours is no exception. But while we rightly celebrate the revitalization of urban cores like downtown Phoenix—signified by hip cafés, luxury condos, award-winning restaurants, and the like—it would be a mistake to overlook how the suburbs are changing as well. Earlier this year, we linked to a Politico magazine story about the suburbanization of poverty in metro Atlanta, which invited the haunting question: “What happens when poverty spreads to a place that wasn’t...

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Christmas in Phoenix

December 23, 2014 No Comments 4

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic. On his blog, Talton examines the historic and contemporary developments that have made Phoenix the city it is today. He is often highly critical of the economic and political players who have shaped Phoenix, but for those of us who want to see our city thriving not just now but for decades to come, it's required reading. This week, however, he paused to remember, with fondness, what Christmas was like as a child: I never dreamed of a white Christmas because I grew up in Phoenix. On the one hand, you felt terribly disconnected from the world depicted by television and the movies. As a child, I had no idea what snow really looked or felt like. My one experience, when I was four, was seeing flakes coming down. I was so excited that I ran to the side of the house to tell my mother. By that time, they were gone. Not until my thirties would I experience a snowy Christmas. Growing up, I wasn't fleeing snow or staying in a resort. Christmas in this preternaturally green oasis surrounded by the Sonoran Desert was all I knew. And yet it seemed right and possessed no little sense of enchantment and meaning. After all, Jesus had been born in a desert. In the Phoenix of my youth, going to the Christmas Eve service at Central United Methodist Church and exiting into the chill, dry air and canopy of stars, I felt very close to those shepherds abiding in the field. In the 1960s the luminaria on the sidewalks of Willo were decades away. Willo wasn't even a name. The fancy light shows were to be found in Palmcroft and Alvarado, where the rich people...

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic. On his blog, Talton examines the historic and contemporary developments that have made Phoenix the city it is today. He is often highly critical of the economic and political players who have shaped Phoenix, but for those of us who want to see our city thriving not just now but for decades to come, it's required reading. This week, however, he paused to remember, with fondness, what Christmas was like as a child: I never dreamed of a white Christmas because I grew up in Phoenix. On the one hand, you felt terribly disconnected from the world depicted by television and the movies. As a child, I had no idea what snow really looked or felt like. My one experience, when I was four, was seeing flakes coming down. I was so excited that I ran to the side of the house to tell my mother. By that time, they were gone. Not until my thirties would I experience a snowy Christmas. Growing up, I wasn't fleeing snow or staying in a resort. Christmas in this preternaturally green oasis surrounded by the Sonoran...

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic. On his blog, Talton examines the historic and contemporary developments that have made Phoenix the city it is today. He is often highly critical of the economic and political players who have shaped Phoenix, but for those of us who want to see our city thriving not just now but for decades to come, it's required reading. This week, however, he paused to remember, with fondness, what Christmas was like as a child: I never dreamed of a white Christmas because...

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic. On his blog, Talton examines the historic and contemporary developments that have made Phoenix the city it is today. He is often highly critical of the economic and...

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic....

Although author and journalist Jon Talton currently makes his home in Seattle, he is a fourth-generation Arizonan who formerly worked as a columnist for the Arizona Republic. On his blog, Talton examines the historic and contemporary developments that have made Phoenix the city it is today. He is often highly critical of the economic and political players who have shaped Phoenix, but for those of us who want to see our city thriving not just now but for decades to come, it's required reading. This week, however, he paused to remember, with fondness, what Christmas was like as a child: I never dreamed of a white Christmas because...

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Family to Family in Central Phoenix

December 19, 2014 No Comments 7

Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at risk nutritionally. They are not eating well or sometimes not at all. Our public school system is partially meeting this need by feeding most school children at least two meals each school day and sending them home with food bags for the weekend. What most of us who are well fed don’t think about is this: what happens to these children during school vacations like summer break and Christmas break? How do these children eat? The sad answer is that some don’t. In 2012, Christ Church of the Valley piloted an initiative to address the need to feed school children during the two week Christmas break. Research was done in cooperation with Phoenix school districts, a plan was implemented, and some kinks worked out. The next year, CCV shared their plan with other Phoenix churches and the Family to Family Food Box distribution program was born. fcc-1 Through Family to Family, churches partner with local schools to provide two food boxes for each needy family identified by the school administration. Each box is filled with 23 staple items, which can help sustain a family of four to five for one week. Church members are asked to personally shop for these 23 food items and fill a box or two or more. The contents of each box cost approximately $35. This Christmas season, First Christian Church (FCC) is distributing 500 Family to Family Food Boxes, impacting 250 families through the following schools in our neighborhood: Mountain View School, Sunnyslope Elementary School, Desert View Elementary School, Maryland Elementary School, Rose Lane Elementary School, Richard E. Miller Elementary School, and Sunnyslope High School. Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at risk nutritionally. They are not eating well or sometimes not at all. Our public school system is partially meeting this need by feeding most school children at least two meals each school day and sending them home with food bags for the weekend. What most of us who are well fed don’t think about is this: what happens to these children during school vacations like summer break and Christmas break? How do these children eat? The sad answer is that some don’t. In 2012, Christ Church of the Valley piloted an initiative to address the need to feed school children during the two week Christmas break. Research was done in cooperation with Phoenix school districts, a plan was implemented, and some kinks worked out. The next year, CCV shared their plan with other Phoenix churches and the Family to Family Food Box distribution program was born. fcc-1 Through Family to Family, churches partner with local schools to provide two food boxes for each needy family identified by the school administration. Each...

Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at risk nutritionally. They are not eating well or sometimes not at all. Our public school system is partially meeting this need by feeding most school children at least two meals each school day and sending them home with food bags for the weekend. What most of us who are well fed don’t think about is this: what happens to these children during school vacations like summer break and Christmas break? How do these children eat? The...

Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at risk nutritionally. They are not eating well or sometimes not at all. Our public school system is partially meeting this need by feeding most school...

Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at...

Arizona has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation. In practical terms, this means that one out of four children in Arizona are at risk nutritionally. They are not eating well or sometimes not at all. Our public school system is partially meeting this need by feeding most school children at least two meals each school day and sending them home with food bags for the weekend. What most of us who are well fed don’t think about is this: what happens to these children during school vacations like summer break and Christmas break? How do these children eat? The...

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Taking Responsibility for our City

December 11, 2014 2 Comments 21

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as anyone who leads a team knows, it’s true. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while attending a leadership retreat, where a lion’s share of the morning discussion had to do with the power of staff culture. We were challenged to write down the cultural values of the teams we lead. All of the leaders in the room understood the importance of doing so, but few of us had gone through the process of actually writing down the words that both define our current culture and describe the culture we aspire to have. This process is beneficial on multiple levels and applies to all areas of life, whether in the home, in business, or in civic leadership. I recalled that nearly four years ago, when we started New City Church, we went through a similar process—almost without knowing it. At that time we looked at the city of Phoenix and asked ourselves two questions: “What are the current cultural values of this city?” and “What do the people of this city aspire to?” What we have seen over and over as we’ve lived and worked in the city during these past four years is that Phoenix has some very distinct cultural characteristics. First, we have seen that Phoenix values entrepreneurialism. Unlike other cities, there are very few “good old boy” networks you have to navigate, which means that if you have an idea, you really can go for it. Relatedly, we identified a culture of creativity. Perhaps because our city is relatively young, people aren’t afraid to try new things here. The story of Phoenix is still being written, after all. Ours is also a city characterized by resourcefulness, with people from...

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as anyone who leads a team knows, it’s true. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while attending a leadership retreat, where a lion’s share of the morning discussion had to do with the power of staff culture. We were challenged to write down the cultural values of the teams we lead. All of the leaders in the room understood the importance of doing so, but few of us had gone through the process of actually writing down the words that both define our current culture and describe the culture we aspire to have. This process is beneficial on multiple levels and applies to all areas of life, whether in the home, in business, or in civic leadership. I recalled that nearly four years ago, when we started New City Church, we went through a similar process—almost without knowing it. At that time we looked at the city of Phoenix and asked ourselves two questions: “What are the current cultural values of this city?” and “What do the people of this city aspire to?” What we have seen over and...

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as anyone who leads a team knows, it’s true. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while attending a leadership retreat, where a lion’s share of the morning discussion had to do with the power of staff culture. We were challenged to write down the cultural values of the teams we lead. All of the leaders in the room understood the importance of doing so, but few of us had gone through the process of...

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as anyone who leads a team knows, it’s true. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while attending a leadership retreat, where a lion’s share...

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as...

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." – Peter Drucker The first time I heard that quote, it stuck. I didn’t need to hear it again because as anyone who leads a team knows, it’s true. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago while attending a leadership retreat, where a lion’s share of the morning discussion had to do with the power of staff culture. We were challenged to write down the cultural values of the teams we lead. All of the leaders in the room understood the importance of doing so, but few of us had gone through the process of...

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