Currently returning from the east coast. I'm happy to headed home - but wish I knew the score from the Yankee game!…Go Yanks! (They won! what a lineup!)
CCDA was again a great event. CCDA tends to be more like a reunion and networking meeting than a conference. It continues to be the one place where I consistently do more networking and ‘pollinating’ than anywhere else. I read something in the New York Post today regarding social networking styles. I discovered there are ‘butterflies’; those who flutter around pollinating and ‘dolphins' those who run in tight ‘smart’ networking groups. It seems to me that CCDA is much more of a ‘dolphin’ group. It’s a pleasure to be with folks who understand what I’m doing and sharpen my vision and goals. It’s also great to be inspired by the speakers and conference attendees.
Pastor Bains and Gilbert from the NCUD board went with me to the conference. Certainly one of the highlights was in being with them. We shared a room; Gilbert graciously took the hide a bed. It was fun to be able to introduce them to the CCDA experience. We even went to Pat's for an autentic Philly cheese steak!
I had a great conversation with Amy Sherman at Ele:vate /Economis. Amy impressed me. She has the unique quality of being truly brilliant with great social skills. We talked extensively about a collaboration with NCUD where we would use her ‘token economy’ as part of our Youth Credit Union Program (YCUP), as well as serve to introduce the curriculum to other community based organizations in the area. The essence of her program is that the kids ‘earn’ credits through whatever criteria we set up (i.e. Grades, attendance in a particular program, public service...) They manage a virtual checking and saving account make investments using real time wall street values and can even have a credit account set up. They can visit an online store and purchase real items (that we would receive through in kind donations), based on the money they have and have earned. This provides the incentive that other financial literacy programs don’t have and has been one of my concerns about starting a youth program. We’re looking at other models - but so far she has some of the best components I’ve seen.
Each morning at the conference Dr. John Perkins does a Bible study. For me, it is one of the highlights of each year’s conference. Dr. Perkins continues to be a major influence on me. I’m amazed that he can be evangelical in his attitude toward sharing the Gospel while being socially conscience. For a man with a third grade education, he handles the Word adeptly. Tony Campolo also spoke. He was great. He spoke about having a ‘testimony - living life in such a way so that your actions and experiences mean something at the end. I remember hearing Tony 1980Â’s and as a teenager being deeply impacted about his messages about poverty and being a true Christian.
Other than that - I attended some great workshops including one by Larry Acosta on fund raising. It was a joy to catch up with Phil Jackson, Marcos Gamez, Jeremy Del Rio, Rudy Carrasco, Noel Castellanos, Erik Iverson, Crissy Brooks and many other friends. One highlight was the time I had with Pastor Dan Hutt from Palo Alto Christian Reformed. We talked much about our lives, ministries, networking, collaborating…. I hope I can see him more on the ‘left coast’ than having to travel to Philly to see someone who lives two miles away!
After the conference I hopped a Greyhound to New York to spend a two days in the city. I stayed at Jeremy Del Rio’s father’s church near the East Village. Abounding Grace is a great church reaching lower Manhattan. They have a growing and active congregation. They are working out of a four story building right in the center of all the action. I stayed ‘YWAM’ style, on an air mattress in the youth room.
I arrived on Sunday and traveled out to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to hang with Jeremy and his son Judah at a street faire. I had a great New York Italian sausage and peppers sandwich and watched Judah run his father around looking for a toy and trying to bankrupt Jeremy with tickets for the jumpy houses. After the faire we met up with Jeremy’s wife Diana and drove to Chinatown to have ‘soup dumplings’ at Joe’s. Man, those dumplings are awesome. Judah LOVES them. It was fun watching him tear them apart. Made me miss Samuel.
On Monday Jeremy and I spent a few hours hanging out and talking about life and ministry. One of his board members has a restaurant on the ‘NoHo’ part of Manhattan. After an awesome lunch I went and visited my cousin Michael at his business on 39th and 7th, in the Fashion District. I then walked around the city, praying, listening to U2 and taking pictures. I stopped in St. PatrickÂ’s Cathedral on 5th Ave to meditate and pray. I prayed specifically for East Palo Alto and the Measure C meeting that happened on Monday night. I capped the night off visiting with Jason Lewis, a friend and former BCM summer intern.
Tuesday was spent packing, grabbing a final few minutes with Jeremy (it’s his birthday) and taking the train to JFK for the trip home. We walked by the famous 'CBGB" club. I remember going by there in the late 80's when it was in a seedy neighborhood. Now it's in the central part of the a revitalized area. Gentrification is touching all of our cities. CBGBs is due to close this month. It was the incubator for famous artits and bands like The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and others. The end of an era. It makes me believe that San Fran and Austin are the best places to see live music - even better than NYC.
I’m thankful to God for allowing me to go to the conference and NYC for this last week. I feel reenergized and ready to continue driving toward the vision we have for the city.
Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'