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.
Every month, the Urban Neighbor Program gathers to assimilate the realities of the communities in which they live. The hope is to grow together and become more equipped as good neighbors and friends to constructively engage within these truths.
Karen McKinney, Theology professor at Bethel University, joined the Urban Neighbors at the November meeting to facilitate a simulation representing a grievous actuality. Professor McKinney organized the Urban Neighbors by what their earlobes looked like. Yes, you read that correctly, the most arbitrary characteristic you could imagine, earlobes. Their subsequent experiences were based on what kind of earlobes they had. Some enjoyed the luxuries of snacks, comfortable seating, and all the entertainment they could want from their personal attendants. Others were asked to stand in a small, designated area in the corner of the room. One last grouping sat in folding chairs in a circle, between the comfortable “upper class” and the excluded “lower class”. It went on to create a micro-economy in which people traded coins to work their way up to the desirable “upper class”.
It wasn’t long until the “upper class” was creating economic rules which discriminated against the other two groups. The “lower class” soon gained a reputation of being slower, disorganized and unruly. By the time the simulation was over, Urban Neighbors were brimming with strong emotions, saying they were frustrated, conflicted, and felt dehumanized. It was very apparent that this was much more than a mere simulation.
Being sorted and discriminated against based on a characteristic as arbitrary earlobe-type is a lifelong reality. The Urban Neighbors experienced a deep shift in perspective, and it was clear that their thoughts and emotions were sifting through the gravity of the implications of the simulation. A simple simulation did not solve these issues. It started a shift in perspective and began difficult conversations. It is in these spaces of the discomfort of recognizing the stark contrast between privilege and discrimination that we can begin to listen, understand and begin to move forward together.
Join us on January 11, 5pm at The Capri Theater for the next Urban Neighbor meeting featuring a screening of the film “Dakota 38” and a discussion on healing with the subject of the movie, Jim Miller. Click here for more information.