To impact a community, the first step is often just to be a neighbor.
On our journey to better understand how to effectively help those in poverty, we stumbled across one of the most innovative organizations in the United States. The Christian Community Development Association, founded in the '80s, is made up of a Christians from all across the United States, and even the world, who are focused on making a real difference in low income communities.
The group sprang from the work of Civil Rights activist John Perkins. As a believer, he was committed to both sharing the gospel and to addressing the needs of those stuck in chronic poverty. His conviction was that there is no awkward separation between the two; instead, they go hand in hand. Through his pioneering work, as well as those of associates across the country, a set of best practices emerged. These principles were recognized as being keys to bringing hope and life to a blighted community.
The work of the CCDA has been a foundation for our work with Journey Home. While we're still exploring and learning how to best apply the various principles and best practices, they've informed and guided our program from the beginning. Over the next month or two, we'll digging into these principles of poverty alleviation.
We'll first focus on Relocation, the principle that says the best people to find a solution to a community's problems are those who actually live in and thus truly understand their neighborhood. Larry James explored this principle in detail on his blog, Urban Daily - the following are excerpts from that.
"Part of the problem facing inner-city communities is bound up in the fact that as soon as many people reach a certain level of success or achieve adequate financial strength, they leave the neighborhood, taking their wealth and their ability with them. What is needed is reverse migration. People with financial assets and ability need to move back toward low-income communities, bringing their wealth and their talent with them. This is especially true for people who have a CCDA-type heart for urban America.
Being able to witness the nature of life in a community, empowers for advocacy. It is one thing for me to speak out for folks across town. It is quite another to speak out with my neighbors about problems we face together without the option of leaving every evening."
Read more of James' excellent summary on his blog.
Photo by Renzo Gerritsen, used under a Creative Commons license