Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Stories From Turley, Part One

I will be sharing some of the details of what has been going on with our intentionally small simple organic church here in Turley this past month. What a movement of the Spirit. Part One:

Tonight (Tuesday, aug. 12) at 7 p.m. we will have a meeting to do some initial planning to get a community garden going in our area, and ways to help others. Let's talk and maybe view some potential sites, and come up with a way to get more people involved on it. The Tulsa Area Community Gardening meeting is a week from today Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the kendall whittier library followed by a visit to their garden. Tonight let's also talk about ways we can move forward on having community-owned livestock and lending tools.

Tomorrow Wednesday, Aug. 13, common meal at 6 p.m. followed by a work session as we get things ready for the Giveaway Donation Day this Saturday, deciding what furniture to keep what to giveaway, etc. and work on sign boxes and other ways to promote the Saturday event. Which will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come and meet the community and help us raise funds as we give huge amounts of items away at this back to school time, all for just "best offer." We will end with prayers, candles for joys and concerns, story for all ages, and communion as we live out the radical spirit of Jesus.

We have turned one of our rooms into a permanent room for the University of Oklahoma Health Clinic, and they are very impressed. We have donated an exam table and filing cabinet and Turley volunteers have fixed and replaced lighting and OU folks have painted the room, and it is really looking great for the patients. The OU mobile unit is down and may be for some time, and we have such a need in our area that OU wants to bring the clinic staff to Turley as much as they can and we want to be ready for them and their services, as we seek to cut the disparity in life expectancy in our area; our zip code is 14 years lower than the life expectancy in midtown just 8 miles away.

Turley volunteers have also been working to upgrade and continue improving the Free Internet Center in our place, and it is getting close to a big transformation and we will work on it.

Today the rain is a blessing, for the past few weeks have been full of heat alerts. Our Center has been open almost continually as a shelter for those without electricity. This has helped us become more of a presence in our community, but of course the rising electric costs have really hit us hard. Any special extra donations at this time are greatfully received and all goes into mission, as we are all volunteers and no one is paid.

One of the stereotypes of people in our area is that we are only "takers" and not givers, have no community spirit, because of our poverty and our many problems. One of the missions of our creating the community center was to provide opportunities for people to show this to be untrue, and to show what can happen when you approach people with a spirit of radical trust and hold out community and connectedness as an ultimate value. This summer is really showing how these deeper values can come out in people.

This past Saturday morning three of us painted over graffitti that had been painted with swear words and drug-oriented words on two abandoned houses with broken windows and trash all over the yard and street, right across from our local elementary school playground; this area still needs much attention and work and needs to be on the county health-department watch (because there are still major problems with weeds higher than a house that is abandoned right across the street too). We picked up trash. We also worked on planting more gardens around the school, so when the students came back yesterday they would have something uplifting to look at and not the despairing yards, and we will continue this. This not only affects the 300 students and teachers at the school, but the neighbors around the area as well. It is a shame that what should be a highpoint of the community, the area right around the school for our children, is often in the worst shape. We will work throughout the year with the school and PTA (paying for a pizza meal when the school wants an incentive to help bring parents together) to keep seeing the improvements we have seen the past three years.

One of the catch-words of transformation and sustainability these days, and the organic Christian church movement too, is "co-conspirators." People who conspire together for transformation. Conspire means to "breathe together." We are celebrating one of our co-conspiracies with the OU Social Work and Community Medicine Departments, and with the local Turley area community association and groups, in a Big Free Celebration on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Center, from 6 p.m. on. Beginning with bluegrass music, ending with rock and blues music, having a presentation by OU about what they have found in Turley and helping with us to promote volunteering in our community through a big volunteer fair and visual presentation. You can show your support by dropping by during this event; sending in money to support it; offering your prayers; as we use it to launch our "organic church" year of hands-on mission. Come meet the disparate, improbable people, the folks all over the theological and political spectrum, the ex-felons, the recovering, the wounded helping the wounded.

And we have been promoting a celebration of democracy. The next election will be Tuesday, Aug. 26. Which is also Women's Rights Day when women got the right to vote. And that night is the next Community Association meeting at 7 p.m. (just as the polls close) at the O'Brien Recreation Center. There is a lot going on with the renewing efforts of the animal support group, and more.

We will be starting a Monday Matinee film group to watch spiritual and socially-justice themed films and documentaries. We are also starting back up our monthly free music coffeehouse with a concert at the Center on Saturday Sept. 13 by Johnny and the Oklahomans, a band with a local Turley flavor, which plays the music of Bob Wills and Hank Williams and more from the 30s through the 50s, classic country.

We continue our food pantry and will be working to expand it.

Our free wifi and internet center helps people of all ages, including the sheriff's office which uses it to send in their reports from our area so they don't have to travel downtown; it is the little things, always, which make a big difference.

Please spread the word about us. We are the leaven in the world, slowly undermining the dominant culture's values of individualism, hyper-commercialism, appearances, achievements and affluence, of cynicism, despair, fear, and a sense of scarcity. We are doing it by becoming "fractal" promoting chaos and self-organizing that comes from that, not fearing ambiguity or things getting complex. We do it through trying to fail, and learn from our failures, because trying to fail means you are trying and risking the impossible. And because it, our openness to failure, opens us up to receiving the good news that through God all things are possible, you just have to get out of your one-year three-year five-year plans and have eyes on the horizon.

Keeping our eyes on the horizon is one of the missions of our Wednesday spiritual gatherings, and of our Sunday morning trips together to worship with Church of the Restoration and others, and of our planned upcoming weekend Spiritual Retreat; come to help us plan and participate in it too.

August is going to be the month when we plant the seeds for the immediate future events, which are planting the seeds for the next 300 years.

What area of leadership would you like to take? What dream would you like to seed? Everywhere we start counts; everywhere we go, good things happen.

blessings, Ron Type rest of the post here