My first column is up at Urban Faith. It was inspired by the International Arts Movement’s Encounter 10 gathering. That’s one of the speakers, David Sacks, talking about his gorgeous photography work in the photo above. I interviewed philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson at the Four Seasons Hotel after she spoke at Encounter 10. Her talk reminded me of a book club selection from the High Calling Blogs network so I incorporated a bit of that into my column. The interview with Roberta was so fascinating that I pitched my editors at Christianity Today on using it as the foundation for a profile of her instead of just running the interview. They agreed and are sending me to Southern California next month to build on it. This is how my work often comes together.
Here’s a clip from “The Art of Urban Ministry,” which combines Roberta’s thoughts with my own and Bill Strickland’s and the Apostle John’s.
In his memoir, Make the Impossible Possible, entreprenuer Bill Strickland describes the images of his earliest memories. He writes, “What I saw as I walked to school each day was an unbroken landscape of decay that taught me indelible lessons about hopelessness and defeat no matter where my gaze fell.”
Home was different. There Strickland’s mother enlisted her children’s help in keeping their simple abode neat and clean. In high school, a teacher named Frank Ross introduced Strickland to the art of making pottery. It changed his life. With the support of patrons, Strickland founded the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild when he was just 19 years old.
Today Strickland presides over the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, a gleaming, expansive community arts and jobs training center in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of this space he writes, “Anyone who knew me could see straight off that the place was built to offer our students the same rich experiences that had turned my life around. There was clay. There were art and photography. After a while, there were gourmet food and flowers…. And it was all housed in a sleek, clean, sunlit space that had been meticulously designed down to the last detail, to give our students the same sense of self-worth and possibility that Frank Ross’s classroom had nurtured in me.”