Dwelling in the Cracks; Filling the voids

| Zack Newsome | | Leave a Comment

After two years of life & work in downtown Phoenix, there is so real momentum behind communitasPHX. We’ve built a great deal of social capital & relational credibility, and our initiatives and events we’ve hosted have been well received by downtown dwellers. Now, with the opening of fractal, an art, music, & workspace in the Downtown Phoenix arts district, our opportunities are endless to make an even bigger impact on the people & culture of our city. At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, it’s quite remarkable that we’ve been given such a voice and such influence here in such a short amount of time.

Don’t get us wrong, this influence hasn’t been easy. We have worked hard for the past two years to gain the trust of neighbors. We have had to overcome the stigma associated with Christianity that young urbanites carry. We’ve promoted and participated in the agendas, hopes, and dreams of others. We’ve had to prove to folks in downtown that we love and care deeply not just about Jesus, but also about the city, her problems, and her people. Any voice we’ve been given to speak into the challenges of Downtown Phoenix has been because we’ve chosen to dwell in the places where we find voids.

There are numerous factors that play into the development of any city. If a city is young in it’s development cycle, or if it is far from reaching it’s full potential, many of these factors are being neglected. These “voids” could be anything: the lack of enough art spaces or music venues, a lack of social services to care for the poor and under-resourced, or the lack of a good bar or coffee shop. These voids are like the cracks of an old concrete sidewalk. They represent that which is keeping the city from being whole and they need to be filled. Filling these “cracks” help us “play a significant role” in the neighborhood we live in. They allow us to weave ourselves in the fabric of the community. And they give us a voice in the development of in our city.

Unfortunately, most communities of faith don’t realize the power of filling these voids in their cities. All too often, they come to their cities with a pre-conceived plan and agenda that fails to be sensitive to the real needs of the city. Our commitment is to dwell in the cracks of our city, to look for God there, and to join in whatever we find Him up to. Here’s how we’ve been able to fill these types of voids recently:

fractal as an art & music venue

Recently, the premiere downtown small music venue for independent and local bands announced it would be adjusting it’s format and would no longer be hosting these small concerts. With fractal, we can open our space up to these events and invite a whole new creative community in Phoenix to participate.

To view an article that our local entertainment magazine wrote about fractal, click here.

fractal as a community resource

As in any city, the needs of the under-resourced are numerous. Fractal gives us a home base for our justice initiatives (Laundry Love Project and On Bike With Love), but it has also allowed us to invite other groups doing great stuff in downtown Phoenix to join us in the space.

The Rusty Spoke Community Bike Initiative – the Rusty Spoke is a community bicycle shop that “provides space and tools for people to come to learn how to repair their bicycle and can also work towards getting a new bike by doing work trade at the shop or buying the bike outright at an affordable price”. These guys are recycling bike parts, promoting alternative forms of transportation, and providing transportation for those living on the streets. We’re excited and honored to partner with these guys.

To see the Rusty Spoke in action, view a recent video we’ve made

Rapid ReBrand – With another partner of ours, the Dojo Collective, we’ve developed an initiative that provides free design, web, and marketing solutions for local non-profits we believe in. Tapping into the graphic design community around us, we lock a group of designers and web developers in our space for 6hours once a month and don’t let them out until they’ve created a logo, website, print material, and whatever else our chosen non-profit needs to moves it’s efforts forward. It’s a great way to get the creative skills of the design community interfacing with the non-profit community to initiate change.

spiritual space

Many of our friends in downtown Phoenix don’t feel comfortable in church settings. Others have significant baggage that keep them from exploring God in the ways of Jesus. So we’ve starting a every-other week gathering for people to explore and interact with God in creative ways. This “space” is meant to be open, inclusive, and free-form. We hope to create environments and opportunities for people to have genuine interaction and connection with God.

Each of these are ways in which we’re dwelling in the voids that exist in our city. They are unique to our context and our experience. These can’t be duplicated elsewhere with the expectation of the same results. They have come as a result of us listening to those God’s put us in relationships with. We’ve chosen to get involved in each of these because we’re convinced they each represent a way in which we can be living symbols of God and his Kingdom.

This article was originally posted on the communitasPHX blog

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