Archive for June, 2011
What separates communities? What unites them? Both circumstance and choice have the power to tear apart or bring together groups of people.
Circumstance, for example, happens to one who is born in a certain place and time. Choice, on the other hand, can enable communication between segregated groups. Therefore, choice has the power to cause, solidify or revolutionize the unity or separation of people.
The Seer is a person who “sees” an idea, an image that can be used for social change. With this image, a Seer instills a form of restoration, a returning of a community to its wholeness. With support behind them, this person helps a community re-discover its capability and potential.
When Kyle Korver was younger he watched his father apply an image to Los Angeles County. This image was to plant trees, clean up garbage and paint over graffiti twice a month. Kyle’s uncle has continued this cause known as the Compton Initiative. He observed both his dad and uncle over the years, the initial “Seers,” and is now modeling after their example.
On June 11th, the Seer Group of KKF launched its second RAIN (Renewing and Inspiring Neighborhoods) project in Salt Lake City, Utah. This involved a small group of volunteers spending their Saturday morning re-painting and re-landscaping a residential property.
Of the volunteers from Risen Life Church, Kaitlyn Wolff commented on the work of RAIN. “Changing one house impacts a whole community,” she said while painting.
Impact is exactly what occurred on Saturday. Neighbors stopped by the project throughout the morning, jaws dropping in observation of the four-hour, 180-degree renewal of the property.
While the volunteer crew was busy packing up equipment into the trailer and sweeping up the driveway, three nearby neighbors were spotted outside their homes, beginning to clean up their yards.
South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood, fourth-generation resident of the area, said that seeing the project take place was exactly the type of initiative she had been striving to instill… “a clean, safe, more beautiful Salt Lake.”
In agreement with Wood’s statement, the city’s Battalion Fire Chief gave his two cents saying that it was “amazing” what the projects were already doing in the community.
Korver says that when you can help, it’s what you do. He says it’s not done for reward or because you have to.
“It’s done because you can. The golden rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you,” he has said.
The Seer Group seeks to not only inspire neighborhoods at large, but also to individuals who hold unexpressed images—potential Seers.
As thoughts pass through our minds every day—ideas inspired and original—we choose. We either embrace, deny or put the ideas on pause. Marianne Williamson, nationally recognized visionary of transformative change said that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Circumstance does not have to define our communities but choice can.
“Children learn something every day, and a lot of times it’s that what they learned the day before was wrong.”
Years ago, I was startled to find that the 8th grade graduation in inner city Philadelphia is well attended and sharply celebrated.
Simply, many of the young people will never graduate high school, so this is their moment on stage.
I think back to when I was in grade school. My mom sat and helped me with my homework. She told me I was going to school if I didn’t want to. She quizzed me, pulled out flash cards, and corrected my grammar as I stumbled through the early years.
Unfortunately, this is not the way things work in our neighborhood. With moms who are often at work, struggling personally, or unable to understand the homework themselves, the educational cycle is often not able to function efficiently.
Our local grade school is one of the best in the inner city, and still, many of our young people are held back a year and forced to go to summer school.
And with about 50% of our local high schoolers not graduating, the dominoes continue to fall.
These last 2 years we have made a concerted effort to stand in the gap.
We opened the doors for an after school program, hired our high schoolers to tutor, and we bribed the little people.
It is a simple step, but we now have an Honor Wall where the children are celebrated for having good grades.
Next year, my hope is that we can raise the standard for getting a photo on the wall.
But for this year, every child who did not get a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ in a class was invited to a special party and got their photo posted.
Our children are ‘unlearning’ as much as they are learning. We want them to see (as one of our teens always says), “that where you grow up does not define who you are”.
So we focus on education, we show that there is a good path to take, and we offer to walk with them down that very road.
And so this week our first high schooler graduated. And it was not a simple task for 19 year old Kareem, and we celebrate him for sticking with it.
As we look forward, our hope is that someday the 8th grade ceremony won’t be as important because there will be high school and high learning ceremonies down the road.
And we expect that next year, we will have to order more pizza for the Honor Wall celebration.
And that someday, these students will be mothers and fathers who sit and teach their children, and a good cycle of education will replace the rusted one that spins now.
It was a great day. It’s especially fun for us.. we grew up doing projects like this when we were little boys, and now having the opportunity to do it ourselves is special. We are going to continue to grow RAIN, fine-tune the process.. with the hope of taking it to new cities soon.
Yesterday was an amazing day. We completed our second home through our RAIN project (Renewing and Inspiring Neighborhoods).
We had an incredible group of volunteers, young and old. We will be spotlighting our young people this week.
A huge thanks to Home Depot, Pella Windows, Subway on 2100 South, and M&M Tool. As we continue to grow, look for RAIN to be coming to a city near you….