Archives for posts with tag: community development

They’ll make you answer a question.  Go ahead.  So you can read more about Father Dunne and his Newsboy Home.

The building at 3010 W. Washington in St Louis is no longer the Newsboy Home.  This past week Gail and I snuck around workmen, fresh paint to see the former Newsboy Home/former Harbor Light now becoming what we are calling (unofficially) 3010.

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Part of the remodeling includes keeping as much as possible the building’s past.  The chapel retains original floor tile and many other features.

Such as the stained glass windows.  When we walked into the chapel a workman offered to show us the newly arrived renovated windows.  He unwrapped one and set it out for us to admire.

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The windows will soon be re-installed.  Lovely.

The Post-Dispatch says that The Salvation Army is remodeling the building into apartments.  More to the story.

The apartments will provide affordable housing for men and women, many who will be or have been in the Army’s treatment programs.  The apartments will provide a place, home.

And 3010’s existence in the city means that there will be a place in the city for those who in many American cities are being pushed out by economic realities.  It’s just too expensive.  Because it’s become just too lucrative to not develop properties for upper-middle and higher income folks.  Chicago’s Lincoln Park, etc.  Will it happen in St Louis?  It will if there is no will to make a place for those who are easily squeezed out.  Out to the edges, to the margins.

Salvation Army has been creating places in St Louis for affordable housing.  Railton Residence.  Veterans Residence.  Now, 3010.  And plans for further developments.

Why?  Because cities do not become full, complete places by homogenizing their economic landscape.  A city’s economy cannot offer a rich urban experience with only the rich.  The rich only become poorer.

When the Army’s co-founder William Booth envisioned salvation for the world he saw more than a religious compartment of human life.  Life also means having a place, a decent place, in this world.  This world so loved by God.


Micah Challenge USA is suggesting that we contact our Congressman in early July to ask their support in resisting a proposed “disproportionately large” cut to poverty-focused development aid.

We have been hearing a lot about community development in recent years.  It speaks to me and my vision for any of us who work in suffering communities, how we can work for long-term (even eternal?) outcomes.  take-a-stand

Do you and your team want to learn what you can do?  Check out Micah Challenge’s Take Action page.

New Orleans foodYes, in New Orleans this September.

W Mich Reg Conf 2013Next week, February 28 – March 2, CCDA West Michigan Regional Conference meets in Grand Rapids.  The cost is amazingly low ($50 for the entire event).  If you can’t attend all three days you can register for Friday or Saturday ($30).  Special student rate also offered.  This is a great deal to learn from and network with community development practitioners.


Dear Salvation Army,

As we do the most good are we making the least difference?

We give away more toys, food, nights of lodging than the guy next door in America’s vast neighborhood of charitable organizations.  Overhead?  Fortune magazine commends us on our slim margin of cost; business people understand us.  Doing the most good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But what difference are we making?

What we do, and we are good at it, is to keep doing what we’ve done before.  And that’s okay, as long as the world doesn’t change.

We have been trained to think in terms of service.  We can give someone daily bread or a night’s lodging.  We don’t think in terms of service that makes a difference.

Now in our busiest season, it’s likely next month’s reports will show Salvation Army has done more good than previous years.  We are tuned, wired to give away more, not less.  We are wired to ask the American public for more and we believe that the best way to steward it, be accountable for it, is by doing more.  Giving more.

kettleDr. John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, likes to share this illustration.  He describes a river from which we are pulling drowning people as they float past us.  Then we have a flash of insight:  how are these people ending up in the river?  Go up stream to find out and do then something about that.drowning

Dr. Perkins says we can and we need to find out why people are drowning, hungry, without a home, without a safe neighborhood, credible schools, access to health care.

We need to find out why when you look at people and they look at you, you see eyes with dying hope, little faith, great pain.  We can see life fading.  Death near.  That is why we need to present the gospel, in word and in action.

So, a choice.  Do the most good?  Or do we make a difference?

Here’s my post on Bob Lupton’s presentation two years ago in Toronto on this subject.

Listen… I can almost hear the voices of the neighborhood from 100 years ago.

     – Bill  Byrd, resident of Benton Park West

This day of work ended, followed by a few hours Gail and I spent with our son John walking through Soulard Market, book browsing and dinner in downtown St Louis.

Friday evening I tagged along with John who had a dinner appointment with Linda Hennigh.  Linda is president of the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association.  John’s Salvation Army work and life is in this south St Louis neighborhood.  He and Linda share an interest in finding ways to strengthen their community.

The restaurant was along Park Avenue near Lafayette Square, a very nice stretch of renovated homes.  Linda is experienced and knowedgeable in bringing stability to Benton Park’s housing stock.  It’s one of those issues which most everyone understands.  Strong healthy communities need housing that allows individuals and families to flourish, feel secure and find justice.  Justice, in that the poor and powerless are not at the mercy of the rich and powerful.

We lingered after our cheesburgers, fries and salad.  What about the human stock of a community?  If housing is a valuable resource for communities, along with good schools, streets, and public services, then so too are its people. 

Strong healthy communities exist, we believe, for the sake of humans.  But communities are also comprised of humans.  Humans make up the greatest resource of a community.  It may seem strange, but it can be put this way:  humans are there for humans.

Actually this is a very spiritual concept.  And it is the essence of God’s plan, at least according to the Christian faith.  We exist for the sake of others.  ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ the good book says (John 15:13).

I think the three of us paused quietly for a moment as we pondered this.  Humans are worth investing in, taking care of, and perhaps even laying down one’s own life for the sake of.

I asked Linda why she became an urban pioneer, investing her time and money, and loving care into Benton Park West.  I’m not sure she spends too much time thinking about this.  But it’s what she’s doing.  Linda’s a doer, and, again, the good book tells us about such behavior.  ‘be doers of the word, and not merely hearers’ (James 1:22).

Some of us are called to give attention to houses.  And some to humans.  Just as God, who so loved the world that he also gave much.

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