Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Change the World" Sunday at an Arlington VA church aims to build social capital; pastor gives sermon on intentional communities; origin of Habitat for Humanity

Today, I did participate in the “Change the World” Sunday (link at the Mt. Olivet Methodist Church in Arlington VA.  With a bad hip, I did something simple – assembling disaster relief kits.  Althought I wonder, don’t people who live in tornado alley buy homeowner’s insurance?

OK, it can happen to anyone.  Nobody is above experiencing a shelter.  So volunteering is part of your karma.  So is the idea of belonging to a group and fitting in, “right sized”, even if the group’s goals are not exactly one’s own or can be called into question.

The church offered a continental breakfast, a blue jeans service at 8:30 AM, and then a morning of service.  There was gardening, stream cleanup (sounds like police call in Army Basic in 1968), and selling lemonade (which, after all, Donald Trump had made his first activity on “The Apprentice” back in 2004).  In fact, I was the first customer for the lemonade stand. The day saw me actually visiting a doggie or puppy playpen near the Arlington Food Assistance Center in Shirlington, before adjourning for brunch (at Freddie’s Beach Bar).

In the meantime, my iPhone happened to update itself to the next operating system during breakfast.

The projects may not seem that ambitious, but the point is more about building social capital than efficiency.  In turn, disadvantaged people see that inequality is being addressed on a personal level and have more reason to play by the rules.  This fits my theory that "inequality" is necessary for innovation, but if not "given back" or "paid forward" somehow, tends to lead to instability, and to losses that can't be recovered from regardless of blame. 

The pastor (Ed Walker) told the story of an intentional community in the 19th Century between Americus and Plains, GA (home of Jimmy Carter), called Koinoia.  At one time, it had practice complete income sharing (along the lines of Twin Oaks, discussed here in April 2012), and along the teachings in the Book of Acts 4:32-35.  David Ensign of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church has often discussed this.  But at some point, the group adopted a more capitalist model and evolved into the modern Habitat for Humanity.  Is having volunteers help build incomes for those with low or moderate incomes the best solution after a disaster (like Katrina, or tornadoes)?  Why not use manufactured housing, which corporate America is very good at.
It’s also worth noting that the LDS Church was one of the most effective religious groups in providing reconstruction after Katrina.
Efficiency isn’t the only goal of service. The Amish know that all too well.  
By the way, this morning (very early by West Coast time), actor Richard Harmon (“The Greatest of All Time”) tweeted info about “The 100 Charities” sponsored by the show “The 100” that he is in.  May be related to this.  

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