The History of Neighboring Movement
In 2013 Matt and Ashley were coworkers at Andover UMC just outside of Wichita. By chance they started talking about music and Ashley mentioned that her husband Adam would really like to be in a band. Matt had been thinking the same thing so Ashley, Adam and Matt started meeting to play music as Brutal Bear.
In 2014 Adam, Ashley and Matt started a 2 year educational academy with Missional Wisdom Foundation. Through that discernment and skill building process several big decisions were made. 1. The band became an intentional community including Matt's wife Catherine and a mutual friend Myrna. 2. Adam and Ashley decided to move into the neighborhood and now are across the street neighbors to Matt and Catherine.
In 2015 at the encouragement of Missional Wisdom mentors we filed for non-profit status. In reality we had no clue what we were going to do other than be good neighbors in SoCe. That same year Matt and Catherine left their full time jobs to become the first part time and bi-vocational employees of SoCe Life. In November of 2015 we received a significant grant from the Knight Foundation via the Wichita Community Foundation allowing us to legitimize our work.
In 2016 we fell in love with Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). It became a passion and began to really shape our everyday work. Eventually, we realized that ABCD was really just a fancy way of talking about being a good neighbor and from there the Neighboring Movement was born. As our partnerships grew the movement was taking us outside of SoCe and into communities all over the country.
In 2017 we made the official move from SoCe Life to Neighboring Movement.org. We solidified our mission of launching a national neighboring movement with exponential life and began creating content to help the world learn to neighbor. Finally, we began to develop a training for churches called the Good Neighbor Experiment (GNE) which drew on our experiences of neighboring and ABCD.
In 2018 we launched our first cohort of GNE churches in the Wichita area. We also received a grant from the City of Wichita to pilot a program called the Neighborhood Animator Project (NAP), where we trained a group of folks from several neighborhoods in the 3rd District of Wichita with skills in neighboring and ABCD. We also had a staff change, with Catherine leaving Neighboring Movement to work for the County Conservation District. But, our friends from Missional Wisdom Foundation sent us Ryan to come learn and work for us for a year.
In 2019 our work and staff continue to grow at a rapid pace! We are averaging three GNE cohorts a year and the NAP will wrap up in August with a huge block party. We also stumbled upon the power of the Vista Americorps program. Through Americorps, we were able to hire two Vistas to work for us, Kristopher and Lydia. We also hired our friend Karen to work as a connector with churches. We are excited to see where the rest of 2019 leads us as our work take us in surprising directions!