Saturday, February 14, 2009

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity: Reweaving Communities

Yesterday, I had the unique and inspiring blessing to have met Jeff Bowen, the Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity (HFH).

HFH, describes itself as a "Christian-based organization, that develops opportunities for all of God's people to act out their faith. By working in partnerships to eliminate substandard housing, we enable families and volunteers to improve lives. We create hope building homes, strengthening neighborhoods and reweaving communities".

Jeff is an inspirational, passionate, and living witness to partnering with community residents who are low-income, but whose spirits sing powerful songs. HFH provides the opportunity through housing and home ownership, to eliminate impoverished spirits and assists individuals to identify personal and community assets to enrich themselves and the communities in which they live.

Over the course of decades of work in urban and rural communities across the country, rarely have I heard someone describe a process of "reweaving communities". When I think about weaving I think about people I know that weave baskets, blankets, and other fabrics into gloves, blankets, hats, and socks.

Maybe, creating the context for community change involves "reweaving" the assets within neighborhoods; taking different, disparate, and dissimilar pieces of a community and bringing them together. Maybe, its remapping how we think and act, and how we engage, people on the ground. Or, better yet, maybe its how the people on the ground; neighborhood residents engage us.

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