Reconnecting People | Once a property has been restored, Urban Homeworks works to connect neighbor to neighbor to create a livable, robust community with a strong sense of home. The result is a rich exchange between households that reweaves a sense of community through day-to-day activities.
We don’t always know what to do or how to respond to tragedy, but a few days after the shooting death of Philando Castile, as our community grappled with this, our Director of Asset Management answered for us with a profound simplicity – one that’s become our refrain over the last couple of years: We Neighbor.
Mr. Castile’s two uncles are members of the 82% of contracted work we hire locally. Throughout the summer, they maintain the lawns on 36 of our properties and so, to Russ Barclay, the answer was obvious: let’s call on our network of volunteers via facebook to take over the work and give the family space to grieve. The response was immediate. The post was “liked,” “shared,” and commented on and ended up reaching 6,108 people.
Thank you for your responses...and thank you for your reflections (read below):
Every New Row of Grass - One Volunteer's Perspective
The truth is that I have a growing awareness of the racial and socioeconomic disparities and injustices in our Minneapolis community, but I’m not very good at developing relationships outside of my privileged and insulated white bubble.
So, for me, to be invited to join Urban Homeworks in loving Philando Castile’s family by mowing some lawns was humbling. It was sacred. It was an invitation to serve in a community where I am an outsider. It was having the opportunity to do something, to help with some confidence that my help makes sense, because I know that Urban Homeworks knows its community. And it was empowering-
it empowered me to make a small act of resistance to my own passivity. And I know that outside of the context of relationship, it’s hard, and maybe impossible, to be a helper to a community without inadvertently stripping people of their dignity or perpetuating cycles of oppression.
It's difficult to appreciate how Philando’s family is hurting or how injustice like this impacts my black brothers and sisters. And I grieve Philando's death. For me, every new row of grass was an opportunity to express my sorrow to God and intercede on behalf of those who mourn. For that I am so grateful.
Thank you to our “first responders”:
St. Paul Fellowship
Tom Lachermeier (teacher at North High) & North High student
Chris Frank – family of staff
Jason Holmes—individual who had been following UHW since the tornado (this was his 1st time volunteering)
Kevin Sheppard, Jason Sheppard, Matt Van Overbeke (WUL Basketball players)
Jimmie – a Sanctuary Covenant church member