Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Revolutionary Movement right here, in San Diego

I was recently looking back at my journal, seeing that it was all the way back in 2007 that Sophia and I first visited the Golden Hill area of San Diego, thinking this could be the place we might relocate and become part of a brand new community of faith, hope and love called NieuCommunities San Diego. While I spent our first number of visits trying to envision what it might be like to live and work here (and quite honestly, struggling with that possibility), one thing stood out to me… the art.

It was on the sidewalks and streets. It popped up in unexpected places. Flyers and postcards advertising events and happenings adorned every coffeehouse. I began to see and hear about art events and happenings, often paired with music by local musicians. As a guy who's been intrigued with art as long as I can remember, this was particularly exciting for me. It felt fresh and vibrant, like something important and new was happening in this little corner of the world. Though Sophia and I really didn't know what this would mean—we'd never seen anything like this in the suburban sameness of Orange County—it excited us both, and we looked forward to this being part of our life here with NieuCommunities in San Diego.

Since moving to Golden Hill, we've had the opportunity to meet a lot of artists, befriend a number of them, help launch The Handmade Revolution with other local creatives, and start Make Good. What amazing opportunities we've had so far, for sure. As we've delved deeper into the culture of art here in San Diego, I'm just now beginning to realize the depth and breadth of the art scene, and it's growing impact on our city and the culture, thinking and influences around us.

And growing, it surely is.

Last week a lecture called the San Diego Arts and Culture Forum was held. It was a packed house, surprising a lot of people at the interest of the arts scene in San Diego. Conversations are taking place in and around the idea of art as an influential medium, and what that means to the people of San Diego. And a growing number of people seemed to be taking part of it.

Viva la Revolucion
This weekend, a new exhibition called Viva La Revolucion opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego. It's a gathering of some of the most influential international street artists in the world, including Shepard Fairey, Invaders and Banksy. These aren't mere taggers, but artists who believe art needs to be accessible (I happen to share that passion), and as a result they often bring their art to the street. More than art just for art's sake, many of these artists are leveraging their medium to further agendas of truth, justice and ideas. As urban populations around the world grow, the dialogue between art and the urban landscape intensifies. This exhibition is a reflection of that reality, and an important one at that.

Survey Select
This Friday, an exciting art exhibition begins (and runs thru Sept 15th), called Survey Select. Local San Diego curator Mark Murphy leads this effort, one in which he brings influential artists, films, writers and performers from all over the world to San Diego. The format follows the Art Salon era of the early 20th century, a time and method in which powerful new art movements were started in Europe. I'm particularly excited at the centralized theme around which this exhibition is built, that of "narrative art" and "storytelling." The fact that an art event of this magnitude in incubating here in San Diego is profound. Located at the old Wonderbread factory in East Village, this ought to be a great series of events to participate in.

Then in September, Entijuanarte happens in Tijuana. A few of us attended this surprising art and music event last Fall in Tijuana, and were blown away at the creativity that seemed to be occurring south of The Wall. This is also where we first met Tecui, who has since become part of Make Good. What amazed me most was the lack of San Diego participation. I think we were among the only non-Mexicans in attendance. It was both sad and exhilarating for me, as it felt like were had stumbled on a little-known gem in our backyard. I can't wait to attend again this Fall.

Believe it or not, this just scratches the surface of the art events happening here in San Diego. Ray At Night happens every Thursday night in North Park, The North Park Music Thing is coming up (featuring a hundred local music acts)… the list goes on and on.

All of this fuses into something greater than I'd ever hoped for when moving to San Diego. That art—in all it's permutations, cultures, languages, mediums and expressions—is being leveraged, experimented with, and grown in new and influential ways, right here in San Diego and Tijuana.

Why does this matter?

Because as we continue to pursue how best to engage in conversations with the world around us about the greatest truth and hope of all, others are already having deep and profound conversations in these new, influential mediums… mediums and conversations that don't occur inside the walls of a traditional, institutional church setting.

All of which stirs me to wonder… how can we become part of that? Whether you're an artist/musician or not, whether you know about art or know nothing, it's doesn't matter. You can still be part of this important cultural current that is happening right her in our city, right now. I know I will. I hope you'll join me.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter 2010

My peeps, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Room

"It is in the shelter of each other that people live." - Irish Proverb

Our Community reading for the "Inviting Posture" has been Making Room by Christine Pohl. The quote above falls at the end of chapter 8 entitled, "Making a Place for Hospitality." Pohl contends that an open heart to others assumes an open home or common space. And it it in this space that people truly LIVE.

I've been pondering what this looks like practically for us as a community here in Golden Hill. How do we BE a community of hospitality, including those on the margins of our city.

I wonder how God might be inviting us to practice more hospitality within the common space of our community.

There are so many who go to bed alone at night, covered in darkness and despair. Isolation is not what God intended for humanity. Hospitality is a central part of our identity as followers of the Jesus.

May we continue to listen, learn and live out the shelter of God as the body of Christ.

Friday, March 5, 2010

a learning community

"In times of change, the learners will inherit the earth, while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Roots Garden

Last Saturday, some of us spent a rainy (periodically storming) day volunteering at the New Roots urban garden in City Heights. Facilitated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), New Roots is a 2.3 acre urban garden, providing plots for approximately 80 families representing 12 countries, all refugees who fled from oppressive or dangerous circumstances, and relocated here to San Diego. Through this garden, these refugee families are able to grow their own affordable, healthy food, many of which can't be found in markets here in San Diego. Some sell extra produce grown to local restaurants, providing an additional source of revenue for their families.

Volunteers were of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity and age. It was a small taste of the kingdom of God, a rich experience that went far beyond merely shoveling and moving mulch. Thanks to Michael Kolbas for coordinating the event, and all the work you do for the Garden and the IRC.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mark McAfee and raw milk

Mark McAfee Speaks about Raw Milk

On Saturday, John and Bri Coghlan invited Mark McAfee from Organic Pastures in the Central Valley (one of only two raw milk producers in California) to come to Golden Hill and talk with us about the benefits of drinking raw milk. Mark is a passionate, compelling speaker with an amazing knowledge not just of the benefits of drinking raw milk, but on the food industry as a whole.

A bunch of us at NieuCommunities San Diego have been exploring issues of food justice and understanding the benefits of eating natural, truly organic, locally grown food, the way that God made it. Mark's insights were terrific. And dang, the raw milk samples he brought tasted amazing.

The audio recording is 1:48 (that's nearly two hours long), but it's amazing stuff. Mark is a great speaker, so pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee (or raw milk), kick back, and listen up.

You can follow Organic Pastures on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

Note: the recording is downloadable (see the down-arrow to the right of the player) and can be embedded in your own blog or website. Mark encouraged us to share this, blog it, and pass it around.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

in defense of "missional"

The word "missional" is one of those words that came on by storm a few years ago and is already losing its cachet. It's been widely misunderstood and generally misused, and now some are calling for it to be jettisoned from our vocabulary all together. I was tempted to jump on the bandwagon until I read Christopher Wright's examination of the word in the introduction of his notable book, The Mission of God. Wright makes a strong case for the importance and use of the word missional especially in light of what words like mission and missionary have come to mean in people's minds today.

I agree with Wright's assessment that the word mission now refers to all kinds of human endeavors, eternal or not. Lots of people, businesses, and churches have personal and corporate mission's statements that attempt to describe the unique task they've set out to accomplish. That kind of focus can certainly be helpful, but in our attempts to distinguish ourselves from others we inevitably end up using mission in a narrower, more individualized, customized sense. Mission is what we do and how we do it. Hopefully our unique missions are connected to the mission of God, but they're rarely assumed to be synonymous with the mission of God.

Missionary has become an even more limiting word. Missionaries are seen as unusual people who are called to carry-out the task of mission usually in some far away place. Not many people can identify with the calling of the missionary and even fewer would want to be one.

It's against this backdrop that the word missional entered our conversation. It's not a verb that refers to a customized task, (our mission), or a noun that refers to a unique kind of person doing a unique kind of work (i.e. a missionary). It's a powerful adjective that denotes that whatever comes after it is related to or characterized by the mission of God to redeem and reconcile all of creation. A missional life then is a life that is actively experiencing and extending God's redemption and reconciliation. And a community is only missional if it is collectively experiencing and extending the redemptive and reconciling mission of God.

As an adjective, missional redefines everything that follows it and gives it new meaning and identity. It reminds us of who we are, who we're related to, and the ultimate mission we have all been invited to participate in. And that makes it worth keeping.