Posted September 9, 2015 by
Tags: Urban Development Urban Leadership Studio
[Hunter Hambrick ('17) is a 2015 CUE Urban Leadership Fellow. His Urban Leadership Studio consists of an early summer experience with S.O.S. (Service over Self) in Memphis, staffing the Urban Track of Wheaton Passage, and leading his peers in a vocational discernment group during his fall semester in Wheaton in Chicago. This post is an adaptation of Hunter’s original post,"Developments: Things I’ve Learned" published on Hunter’s blog.]
I thought roof repair simply required replacing old shingles with new ones. But a dilapidated roof (certainly a troubling matter in and of itself) is usually a more superficial sign of the home’s deeper structural flaws. Often underneath shoddy patch jobs lie faulty wiring, rotten drywall, blocked sewage and foundational imbalances. In this way, home repair serves as a microcosm for the larger world of community development.
As in a home, superficial needs never stand alone. Many onlookers like myself (community outsiders) regard the plight of inner city residents (community insiders) and remark, "__________ is the problem with the home!" That is, if a new roof is the solution to a leaky house, then education or employment must be the trick for a broken city. But inherently interconnected phenomena like roofing and revitalization cannot be reduced to one or two "core issues." Both are more multifaceted than that.
During Early August, a Wheaton professor and I helped guide six freshmen males into their time at college. I led the urban portion of Wheaton Passage, an orientation experience designed for incoming students with a focus upon community, service & justice, the life of the mind, and spiritual formation. The last component of Passage, "spiritual formation," inadvertently bombarded my thinking throughout the entire process. It seems to me that the previous elements of the program all serve the final concept.
I underwent Passage my freshmen year as well and though the actual experience ended long ago, the formation of my spirit has not. Wheaton Passage is an optional program for Wheaton students, but the ongoing "passage" of the spirit is not. I am always being formed. The only question is, "By what?" These bright eyed and bushy tailed young men eagerly explored and experienced community, service, justice, and the life of the mind. I, their leader, hope to follow their lead over the months and years to come.
Wednesday, August 26th marks the beginning of my time in the great city of Chicago. As a part of Wheaton in Chicago, I will intern at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a neighborhood-based community development organization in the Pullman Park District of Chicago's Southside. CNI works holistically to not only meet an impoverished neighborhood’s perceived needs, but also augment its inherent strengths. In other words, CNI works through the ABCDs of urban revitalization through Asset-Based Community Development.
Removing the shingles of a roof at SOS revealed moldy ceilings and faulty wiring, but it also led to the discovery of ornately designed glass work and nearly century-old oak rafters. Who knows what types of "assets" might lie beneath even the toughest features of Chicago's most impoverished neighborhoods? And who knows how this "passage" of my own life might form me in deeper ways than I could possibly envision now?