Saturday, February 28, 2009

Revival Missional Project in Turley Friday March 27 Open To All

This year the service project attached to the UUCF Revival will take place Friday, March 27, 3 to 4:45 pm, at the site where the UUCF offices are also located, in A Third Place, a Free Community Center, in Turley, OK, 6514 N. Peoria Ave (eight miles north of All Souls on the same street, easy to get to and we will have shared transportation). The Center was begun by The LivingRoom Church, a member of the Council of Christian Churches within the UUA, and an emerging UUA congregation. See these websites for more on the work being done here: www.livingroomchurch.net, www.turleyok.blogspot.com, The service project in Turley is open to all whether they are registered or not for Revival.

The Community Center, just two years old, operates almost solely, so far, on all volunteer effort and volunteer contributions. At the Center, there is: a health clinic run by the University of Oklahoma; a free internet center; free library; free clothing and more donation room; meetingspace with cable TV; food pantry; kitchen; a prayer table; community information boards; a Turley Resource Center sponsored by the University of Oklahoma Graduate Social Work Dept; a chance to order heathy, local food through the Oklahoma Food Coop; a 12 step recovery group; a nutrition class; Let Turley Bloom community gardening group; Saving Pets of Turley animal aid group; and The LivingRoom Church gatherings.

The Center and church, and church members, are located in the zip code area with the lowest life expectancy in the Tulsa area, 14 years lower than in the zipcode where the rest of our Revival will take place; only 7 percent of our neighbors have college education, only 37 percent have high school education; on the north side of Tulsa we have no hospitals, no movie theaters, no pizza delivery within our two miles radius, no entertainment venues, sparse public transportation with in our area no covered bus stations for folks during bad weather, and limited grocery options; we have an exorbitant percentage of vacant buildings with 40 percent of those being abandoned, much more so than the percentage available for rent or for sale. Within the last year in Turley we have lost our three main sit-down restaurants and have left only a very small (though good) burger joint that seats five people, and a morning donut store. Within our service area we have a high racially diverse area with 66 percent African Americans, 21 percent white, and remainder american indian and hispanic primarily. We are a crossroads of urban, rural, small town edges, mostly unincorporated and therefore ineligible for governmental block grants, services, etc. But the folks here resist both statistics and stereotypes and are striving to reshape the story of our community and lives. A Third Place Center, in its short life, has become the hub of the community and is crucial to the hope we nurture in each other.

Two years ago, in March 2007, there was no community center presence at all or almost none of the projects listed above; in the past two years there has been the exponential growth of community spirit, connecting, celebrations, and services provided, as well as coalitions formed with others in our area. The LivingRoom Church, few in number, took a risk in 2007 by moving out of its small rented space dedicated to church gatherings and moving into the much larger rented space just one block away and transforming it into the community center, giving it away to others, and meeting inside it. Our impact in the community immediately soared.

We are pleased to host folks to the Center during Revival and are greatly appreciative of those who take part in the "quick plunge" mission project of helping out at the Center. We will have optional projects for volunteers to do which, though not taking long, will make a big and lasting difference at the Center for its mission of "doing small things with great love to change the world." Weather permitting, these may include some projects outside the Center for those who like gardening, but others inside the Center such as helping to do an "extreme design makeover" of one of our areas, or helping organize and label the library materials, or other projects to choose from. Any donations can be made out also either to A Third Place Community Foundation or to The LivingRoom Church, same address, and will go to the same place.