Asking for help at the last minute is a bit lame but that's just what I did to Dan Crain this past Saturday at the first POLIS Institute (www.polisinstitute.org) ABCD training. He graciously helped out - a lot. His help was invaluable. We set up the room for the 17 people who came to the training and he stayed after to help go through a crash course in the Dignity Serves curriculum with a new friend from Chicago. Then we broke everything down and he carted me home. Three cheers for Dan. Thanks!
POLIS was founded to engage the community in the long-term work of neighborhood transformation with the 100 distressed neighborhoods of Orange and Seminole Counties in Florida. These neighborhoods were identified in the initial POLIS research project called Seeking the Welfare of the City. There are 507 neighborhoods total in these two counties (U.S. Census Block Groups). Stress level was determined by looking at six indicators - income, education, crime, health insurance, family structure, and housing. In order to help transform these neighborhoods into places of hope and strength, a patient process of discovering the assets, hopes, and concerns in the neighborhood will need to be rekindled or begun.
The teams that came to the training did so out of a belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ as the message of hope for our distress. This message is holistic and addresses physical, spiritual, and emotional needs with a promise of redemption. It addresses whole people, with needs and gifts, whole families, whole neighborhoods. Those that attended the training represented several areas in the county and were introduced to the first part of this process - "asset mapping" whereby you learn about the resources, talents, interests, and physical assets in a community rather than just needs. As this information is compiled, groups with shared interests will then be convened to work together for a common goal. These small, informal groups may be the seeds of change many in these distressed communities have been hoping for.