About philhissom

Phil Hissom has spent his career designing solutions to complex social problems. Initially focused on environmental issues related to the Chesapeake Bay, Phil has more recently been addressing concentrated poverty, homelessness, and other affronts to human dignity. After receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 2008, Phil founded the POLIS Institute to equip community leaders to alleviate distress in Orlando neighborhoods. He hails from a ministry family that has been laboring with the poor for four generations in Charleston, West Virginia. His immediate family includes his wife Jennie, a children's author, and their lovable mutt, Liberty.

Six Remedies for Asset-Based Paralysis (first in a series)

One of the unintended consequences of Dignity Serves and other resources that promote an asset-based approach to ministry is a deep uncertainty about what to do. You’ve learned that doing things for people can lead to harmful dependencies and that doing things with people can bring about healthy relationships and lasting change. But now what? [...]

By |May 3rd, 2016|Assets|1 Comment

Heroes and Villains

by Phil Hissom

Every non-profit tells a story and in that story there's always a hero and a villain. Sometimes it's explicit and other times it is more subtle but it's there if you listen for it. And you should listen for it because it will tell you a lot about the paradigm in which the [...]

By |March 14th, 2016|Assets, Dignity, Education|0 Comments

You Cannot Die Without Dignity

My girlfriend moved in with Chris in the fall of 1999. Chris was dying of cancer. And she decided to live out her days at home. In addition to the nursing care that she was receiving, she wanted the regular company of someone she knew well that could also help her take care of day-to-day [...]

By |October 24th, 2014|Concepts, People, Personal Stories|0 Comments

How the Church’s Charity Became Toxic

The Church's charity became toxic through a fundamental misunderstanding of the world's most famous story about helping others - the "Parable of the Good Samaritan." The prevailing summary of the story recorded in Luke 10:25-37 is “be helpful to people in need, like the Good Samaritan.” While the parable does teach that, this is absolutely [...]

By |October 8th, 2014|Concepts, Intro|0 Comments

Celebrating the Possible

Is it possible for a stadium redevelopment project to truly benefit the urban neighborhood in which it resides? This question is burning in the hearts and minds of residents who live near Orlando Florida’s Citrus Bowl.

In 2013, hundreds of them participated in a survey that assessed their interest in being a part of the next [...]

By |March 18th, 2014|News event, Videos|0 Comments

More Like Heaven

By Phil Hissom

A while back we went around Palms Trailer Park in Orlando and asked, "How could this place be more like heaven?" The number one answer by far was, "When people drive by, they'd see kids playing." The Palms is well known for lots of things but kids playing is not one of them. The [...]

By |July 24th, 2013|Personal Stories|0 Comments

You Are the Light

By Phil Hissom
John has lived in Palms Trailer Park for three years. He has seen a lot of rough stuff go down, but he’s also seen the positive changes in the park. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him the other day, and I asked him why he thought things have gotten [...]

By |June 16th, 2012|Assets, Change, Personal Stories, Place|0 Comments

From Losing Life to Loving It (Watch the video: Niki’s Story)

It has been a joy to get to know Niki over the last couple of years. She is wise and strong. Her story is an awesome example of how we heal by engaging our God-given talents to build others up. The principles taught in Dignity Serves have helped her become a community leader and an [...]

By |May 5th, 2011|Personal Stories, Videos|0 Comments

God is REEEAAAALLL, man (Alfredo’s Story)

Alfredo came to Florida a decade ago with the promise of a new job. Promises were broken. People let him down. He messed up. He ended up on the streets of Orlando and has struggled to get off. He has struggled to sober up. He has struggled to trust people. In midst of his struggles, [...]

By |April 23rd, 2011|Personal Stories|0 Comments

Toxic Charity

A small group of POLIS partners and friends recently had a Q&A with author and community developer Bob Lupton. He mentioned a new book he is working on called Toxic Charity. At one point he said, "To be a recipient of charity is to sacrifice some human dignity." Sounds bad. Sounds toxic. It’s the kind [...]

By |March 18th, 2011|Concepts|2 Comments