Sharing About ABCD in Portland

Last weekend Matt and I traveled to Portland, OR to share what we have learned about Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). We met with a Missional Wisdom Foundation Launch and Lead cohort at Camp Magruder on the Oregon "coast", not to be confused with "beach" (which is a warm sunny place), the locals informed us. It was a great group of people, all working on amazing projects in their community. 

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Garden Boxes: the next step

As you know, with the help of wonderful volunteers from inside and outside SoCe, we built and painted 6 garden boxes on March 11. Then we painted "SoCe Life" on the sides of each box. Once the painting process was complete, it was time to prepare the boxes for delivery. We lined each box with thick weed barrier fabric generously donated by...

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Visit to Jehovah's Grill

Two Fridays ago had the opportunity to learn about a new ministry connected with our neighborhood. When Mark and I were doing interviews the week before, we were invited to meet the guys at the Jeremiah House. One of the residents of the house gave us a flyer about a place called Jehovah’s Grill and Coffee House and told us to check it out. So we did!

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Why we do what we do!

Last Friday, Mark and I were out knocking on SoCe doors interviewing neighbors. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon, so many people were still at work. We covered a lot of ground, moving from one house to the next, hoping that a few people would be home. The first person we met said she did not want to participate. So, we continued down the street. A few houses later, we met a woman named Alice (not her real name). Alice was fun to interview because...

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"Cold" Calls

From Monday, January 25

Today we learned that it is different to go knocking on doors on a cold day. So far, our experience of doing door-to-door interviews has been very energizing and rewarding. Every time we go out in the neighborhood we have at least one amazing interview. I had begun to accept this as the norm. On a pleasant day, neighbors do not feel obligated to invite us in and they are also comfortable standing outside chatting with us. However, on a cold day, no one wants to stand outside.

This afternoon when Kristin and I went out to do interviews, it was cold and windy. We had called a few neighborhood churches to try to schedule interviews, but had to leave messages each time. So, we were making “cold” calls, literally! The first person we chatted to was dealing with the misfortune of car trouble and did not have time to talk today. She asked if she could call us at a more convenient time and come by our house to be interviewed. We said “sure” and continued on. The next person we spoke to was busy homeschooling her children and asked to complete the interview questionnaire independently. We told her we would stop back by in a week to follow up with her. Another person we went to interview was bundled up in a cozy robe and was embarrassed for us to see her home. She was just sitting down to eat. We asked if we might come back next week and she agreed. Thus, we now have a busy schedule set for next week - following up on all the contacts we made today.

We learned that cold weather interviews provide challenges other than the chill of walking from house to house. It was interesting that no one was comfortable inviting us in today, but they all were willing to set an appointment to meet with us at a future time. Scheduling a future interview time provides a third option - aside from standing outside in the cold or inviting two strangers in. I think this is a way in which we can respect our neighbors and allow them to participate on their own terms. This third option seems to be the best way to express hospitality to our neighbors.

Crafting Saturday with SoCe!

From Kristin...

The crafting this past Saturday was hopefully the first of many more crafting times with the neighbors of SoCe. We have discovered that many of the women in the neighborhood have hidden talents for crafts, spanning a wide variety from macrame to quilting to floral arrangements.

The impromptu crafting day came about quite effortlessly as we invited neighbors the day before. In the end there were six women gathered around coffee, crackers, and spools of many different threads. It was a wonderful time to learn together and fail together as we did our best to make knots in a remotely fashionable way.

On Sunday we got word that one of the women had a request from a neighbor to crochet him some purple socks - she commented that although we could possibly do socks in the future, we would have much more luck making him a macrame belt! Needless to say we got the hang of square knots much faster than crochet knots.

It is our hope that we can have more of these times for the women to share their talents and gather together around cups of coffee and plates of crackers.  

Crafting Saturday

Today we had our first ever SoCe crafting Saturday. We discovered that one of our neighbors used to do macrame, so we asked her if she would be willing to give us a lesson. We began by learning the square knot and practiced that for a while - making bracelets. Then we moved on and tried our hand at crochet.

Beginning macrame

Beginning macrame

Beginning crochet

Beginning crochet

Kansas Appleseed


One aspect of SoCe Life is that we have the opportunity to meet and network with great organizations and people. This week, Ashley, Catherine, and I met with Jacqueline from Kansas Appleseed. (Side note: we met at Common Grounds for coffee--which is awesome!) We met to share about the work our two nonprofits are doing.

Kansas Appleseed is focused on addressing social injustices within communities by partnering with residents and local organizations and pro bono attorneys. As Kansas Appleseed learns about issues, they then take action to confront and change legislation that may be creating the injustice. Currently they are working to address child hunger as well as juvenile justice. While these two issues are their current focus they could address any issue of social justice.

You can learn more about their work here:

It was also great to meet with Jacqueline because she lived in SoCe for a time when she was a child. She shared with us that there was a house that was renovated to serve as the South Area Center when she lived here. They provided afterschool and summer programs such as guitar lessons. Unfortunately, the South Area Center is gone, but it is a reminder that folks have been doing good things in SoCe since before we got here!

Cuban cooking lesson

From Catherine…

Last week my dream came true - my neighbor, Maytee, offered a Cuban cooking class for a handful of folks from the SoCe. We gathered around 5 pm to learn how to cook traditional, as in BC (before Castro), black bean soup, rice, and Fricase de Puerco (Pork Fricassee). What difference does BC make? Maytee explained that before Castro, some ingredients such as olive oil and vegetables were more readily available.

Black bean soup

Black bean soup

Maytee had pre-cooked the black beans so they would be soft when we arrived. This meant her house already smelled amazing! Peppers and onions were diced in tiny bowls on the counter - just like a cooking show! We quickly learned Maytee’s rule of thumb that one must use 5 cloves of garlic per pound of anything - beans, meat,... The secret to great garlic is using a giant mortar and pestle to grind it - rather than using a garlic press. We all decided we needed to purchase a mortar and pestle immediately - and a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is indispensable in Cuban cooking. You just wait for the chug-a-chug-a train sound and then you can begin timing whatever you happen to be cooking - pork fricassee for example.

Once the meal was ready, we sat down to savor it. We had rice with black bean soup served over it and then freshly fried plantain chips to dip in the soup.

Delicious! Mmm… utter delight and contentment on the faces of those gathered round the table. After the pressure cooker reached the chug-a-chug-a stage one last time, we waited 7 minutes for the potato to cook with the pork. We had tried to save a little rice and beans to enjoy with the pork, but some of us had not mustered sufficient restraint so the rice and beans were gone. Heck - we might have licked our bowls had we been at home!

Pork Fricassee

Pork Fricassee