There are so many approaches to community building and restoration. I got to see a few different methods in action when I visited Philadelphia earlier this month.
I can’t easily talk about what I actually did; it’s hard to put into words (you can also just skip down to the slideshow). The weekend trip was the idea of someone in my church small group, Steve. He had connected with the staff at an urban ministry called The Simple Way, started by Shane Claiborne. I first learned about Claiborne after reading his book The Irresistible Revolution which I highly recommend.
The staff at The Simple Way was wonderfully hospitable to us. It was phenomenal to see the ways they have engaged their neighbors, and created some beautiful things, such as a aquaponics systems [video: The Greening of Philadelphia’s Concrete Jungle], a shared garden, a community park and after-school programs. Gardens, by the way, are one method of fighting crime, as The American City pointed out in their recent article which highlight s a study on how urban gardens are connected to crime reduction.
While we did some work with The Simple Way staff, we also spent time with a few different churches and ministries in the neighborhood:
- Bethel Temple Community Baptist Church, a community church in the Kensington neighborhood
- Broad Street Ministry, a church in the downtown Philadelphia arts district
- New Jerusalem Now, an addiction recovery ministry in North Philly West