People are our community’s greatest assets. Teachers. Prophets. Politicians. Artists. Biologists. Mechanics. Mailmen. Human ingenuity is an incredible thing. When we call forth the unique gifts we see in our neighbors, we watch with amazement as our fellow citizens become increasingly inclined to take action on the causes they care about most. Time and time again we see how engagement on the individual level serves as a precursor to drive lasting transformation in the everyday places of our lives. While the complexity of city challenges seem to demand wide-scale reactions, there's great value in recognizing how efforts towards systems change and neighborhood renewal start small—in human hearts. This is slow, humbling work that begins with handshakes and eye contact, grows from consistent and compassionate rhythms, and sustains with intentional and continual care—one relationship at a time, over and over again.
In today’s economy we’ve become accustomed to instant everything. Our groceries show up on our doorstep, our ride downtown arrives in 5-minutes, our favorite movies are two clicks away on a device in our pocket. But community is different—it’s a process not a product. Cultivating healthy communities takes time and tenacity. We don’t “deliver” community to community—instead, we shape it together. Nobody wants to be a project. Charity this is not.
Good ideas require the right context. What made sense five years ago may no longer work today. Similarly, what works today may need retooling down the tracks. (There’s a reason people joke about shredding a business plan before the ink dries). Some projects benefit from establishing a predetermined shelf life. Knowing when to stop can be just as important as knowing when to start. Longevity grows from a willingness to evaluate with honesty, evolve, adapt, and sometimes...stop.
Pie-charts and platitudes rarely change hearts or motivate action. But your story might. Let’s just tell that okay?
“Third space” has become common parlance. Real estate is increasingly available in desk-size parcels at a co-working space near you. But be that as it may, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. Shaping spaces for connection and community requires an understanding of how physical features impact human experience. Furniture choices, lighting decisions, ceiling height, private vs. public zones, music—it all matters. It’s all designed. Which leads us to...
Every company, every team, every student has their own definition of what makes design “good.” Despite varying interpretations of the word, despite the variety of ways designers understand their roles, one thing remains true: design impacts everything. Somebody thought about the contour of your toothbrush handle. Someone chose to make the pattern on your socks diamond. Someone made the decision to paint your favorite park bench green and someone else decided to place it under that perfect tree. But design is about more than simply making things look appealing and it’s about more than just usability. Design, at its core, is about making meaning. Since humans, at their core, want to know that their lived experiences have meaning, design matters. Design is a valuable tool used to transform the way people engage the world—for better or worse. Make it count. Aim for for better.
People in the Western world are accustomed to doing everything in our own strength—at a speed which is not sustainable, with a standard of perfection that is not humanly attainable. What if there’s a better way? And what if that way moves us towards real human flourishing—for ourselves and for our communities? What if that way means partnering with God? We believe that God is alive in the world on an active mission to make all things new. God is in charge, we join him as imperfect co-conspirators on the adventure. This requires us to humbly set aside our desire to control, to fix, to save, take up our own crosses and follow. Somehow, in this posture of openness and obedience, we begin to see how our longings—for justice, peace, joy, beauty, belonging, wholeness—align with God’s longings, and how our gifts and skills can be a part of advancing goodness and love in the world. This gives our lives (and our work) boundless purpose and deep meaning, everyday.
* Principles + practices like these, though intended to be helpful, can sometimes feel pedantic, often overlooking cultural complexity when studied out of context. Our intention is not to create a rulebook, but simply to share what we’re discovering and how it shapes our approach—but we’re never perfect and always learning as we go.