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'

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tornado in Florida

I don't know how I forgot to post this - but the tornados in Florida was about 2 miles from my parents house. Thank God - they were untouched. This photo is from right by their house.

Can Igawa Solve Yankees Pitching Woes?

Igawa Debut Dazzling As Kei Igawa prepared to take the mound for a two-inning stint in the Yankees' lone intrasquad game of the spring, pitching coach Ron Guidry delivered a simple message to him.

"Have fun," Guidry said.

Igawa did just that, throwing two nearly flawless frames in his first game action since he signed with the Yankees this winter.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Youth Violence Summit - Feeling Divided

Here's a link to a report and video about some of the anti-violence efforts in the city.

I'm somewhat torn about this event. We've been very involved in some of the city wide efforts to curb the violence. For a variety of reasons, a member of a local rap group that is getting national attention, Dem Hoodstarz, is playing a big part of the summit. So - I'm feeling torn.

I love hip-hop and those who know me know that I'm somewhat progressive in my stance on music. However - I have a hard time asking a group that represents a certain part of urban culture to present an alternative to the violence when their music seems to present a different view. Here's a video that shows them performing at the corner of Clarke and Bay, in front of Price Barber shop - which is one of the local 'hot spots' for drug dealing and violence.

On the other hand, the folks that are organizing the event are good people and I'm know they love and care for EPA. Some grew up in the community and have a good perspective. To be clear, I support the event. It's just unfortunate that the decision was made to include the element of the rap group. I struggling to support some of the key elements. I'm not sure if I can participate or bring the youth I lead in our church.

I guess that i would like to hear more from them in terms of how their lyrics square with their sincere desire for peace. Is the image of women they portray in their videos the image we want to present? There is an apparent contradiction, and I feel we need to hear more from them about their intentions.

I want to be a team player. Some of the folks with other viewpoints are friends and co-workers. I'm trying to hold my tongue when necessary, and speak when it is right. To be straight, I originally posted a much harsher critique. Rudy corrected my tone, for which I apologize and am grateful for his comments. This is a hot issue right now. Some comments were made about my previous post. I left them in to be fair.

So - I'm feeling divided.

The Art of Schmoozing

Guy Kawasaki's blog has a great post about "The Art of Schmoozing"
"Understand the goal. Darcy Rezac in his book, The Frog and the Prince, wrote the world's best definition of schmoozing: “Discovering what you can do for someone else.” Herein lies eighty percent of the battle: great schmoozers want to know what they can do for you, not what the you can do for them. If you understand this, the rest is just mechanics."
I consider myself a fairly good schmoozer. As I read his 9 characteristics, I also thought how they can help us shareing our faith, fundraising, poliital action, community organizaing...

Are you a good schmoozer?

The other eight are:

Get out. Schmoozing is an analog, contact sport. You can't do it alone from your office on the phone or via a computer. You may hate them but force yourself to go to tradeshows, conventions, and seminars. It's unlikely that you'll be closing a big order with someone you met online at MySpace or via Skype. Get out there and press flesh.

Ask good questions, then shut up. The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozers are good listeners, not good talkers. Ask softball questions like, “What do you do?” “Where are you from?” “What brings you to this event?” Then listen. Ironically, you'll be remembered as an interesting person.

Unveil your passions. Only talking about business is boring. Good schmoozers unveil their passions after they get to know you. Great schmoozers lead off with their passions. Your passions make you an interesting person--you'll stick out because you're the only person not talking about 802.11 chipsets at the wireless conference. Personally, my passions are children, Macintosh, Breitling watches, digital photography, and hockey if you ever meet me.

Read voraciously. In order to be a good schmoozer, you need to read voraciously--and not just the EE Times, PC Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. You need a broad base of knowledge so that you can access a vast array of information during conversations. Even if you are a pathetic passionless person, you can at least be a well-read one who can talk about a variety of topics.

Follow up. Over the course of my career, I've given away thousands of business cards. At one point, I thought I was nuts because if all those people called or emailed me, I'd never get anything done. Funny thing: hardly anyone ever follows up. Frankly, I don't know why people bother asking for a business card if they're not going to follow up. Great schmoozers follow up within twenty-four hours--just a short email will do: “Nice to meet you. I hope we can do something together. Hope your blog is doing well. I loved your Breitling watch. I have two tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals if you want to attend.” Include at least one thing to show the recipient that she isn't getting a canned email.

Make it easy to get in touch. Many people who want to be great schmoozers, ironically, don't make it easy to get in touch with them. They don't carry business cards, or their business cards don't have phone numbers and email addresses. Even if they provide this information, it's in grey six-point type. This is great if you're schmoozing teenagers, but if you want old, rich, famous, and powerful people to call or email, you'd better use a twelve-point font. (These are the same folks that need the thirty-point font vis-a-vis the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.)

Give favors. One of my great pleasures in life is helping other people; I believe there's a big Karmic scoreboard in the sky. God is keeping track of the good that you do, and She is particularly pleased when you give favors without the expectation of return from the recipient. The scoreboard always pays back. You can also guess that I strongly believe in returning favors for people who have helped you.

Ask for the return of favors. Good schmoozers give favors. Good schmoozers also return favors. However, great schmoozers ask for the return of favors. You may find this puzzling: Isn't it better to keep someone indebted to you? The answer is no, and this is because keeping someone indebted to you puts undue pressure on your relationship. Any decent person feels guilty and indebted. By asking for, and receiving, a return favor, you clear the decks, relieve the pressure, and set up for a whole new round of give and take. After a few rounds of give and take, you're best friends, and you have mastered the art of schmoozing.

Monday, February 26, 2007


OK... I know I've been somewhat remiss in my postings. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. Some of you may have gotten the prayer note I sent out last week. If not, here's what I wrote:
We began NCUD with the vision to relieve and defeat systemic and generational poverty through the extention of the blessings of the Kingdom of God into our city. Our goal is to effectively give the people the tools and resources to work their way out of poverty. To that end we've been working for the past two years to bring a community development credit union to the community of East Palo Alto.

We are coming closer and closer to the 'tipping point' where I can say that our credit union will open this summer! We're not there yet, but, much work has gone on over that past months that have clarified our vision and direction. I'm feeling more and more optimistic that we will be open this summer, perhaps as early as June. I'm specifically asking for your prayers right now. There are some very critical discussions going on, even today, that need to be bathed in prayer. We're at a crossroads and need the hand of God to guide us continue to open up the right doors.

Much has been accomplished - many hurdles still need to be jumped. WIll you take a moment and pray for us? Our enemy would like nothing better than to foil our plans and labor. Honestly, I'm feeling very positive about this - we just need God to continue to confirm our plans and provide direction.

In addition, we're working on the establishment of our youth financial literacy / leadership development initiative. We're also working out some critical details about that project where we need the wisdom of God.

It's a critical time for our ministry!

God has been faithful in providing the necessary resources for us to keep going. However, we also need to continue to see His financial provision. Please lift our finances up in prayer.

Thanks for all your support. God is doing great things in East Palo Alto! We're blessed to be living and ministering in this great city!
We're really coming down to crunch time... I need your prayers!

On another note, last night my wife Melissa and our friend Andy went to SF to see a lecture by two authors, Eric Metaxes and David Batstone at City Church. Metaxas wrote the companion book to the movie "Amazing Grace". that's in theatres right now. I haven't seen the movie yet. We made a rather poor choice to go and see Ghost Rider this weekend instead.

I've know David Batstone for a couple of years now. He was with the Sojourners crew. David was a guest lecturer at one of my classes at Fuller. He teaches at the University of San Francisco. David's book, "Not for Sale" is about modern day slavery.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Street Gangs in LA

"Gangs are blamed for 56 percent of the 478 murders in Los Angeles last year. Many of the dead were victims of inter-gang warfare or drive-by shootings so commonplace and so far away from affluent Beverly Hills that they barely make the local news.

"Most gang killings involve minorities, black or brown. It is only when something special happens, or a white person is involved, that it becomes newsworthy," said Malcolm Klein, professor of sociology and a gang expert at the University of Southern California.

Klein said most kids join gangs for identity, status, reputation and a sense of excitement. Baca said 95 percent of gang members in Los Angeles were high school dropouts "who have basically given up on themselves. Some of them say they do not expect to live beyond age 20."

Public apathy is part of the problem.

"Even in Los Angeles there is a lot of denial. If you live in Beverly Hills, do you really care what goes on in Compton?" said Wes McBride, director of the California Gang Investigators Association."

Read the entire article here.

Time to pray for Rudy and all our partners in Los Angeles. From my experience with the gang culture, whatever is going on in LA ends up affecting up in Nor Cal. There seems to be a growing culture of violence in our cites. We're certainly feeling it in EPA and other local cities like Oakland and Richmond.

Also check out this website: streetgangs.com it's an interesting resource for gang information, but seems to glorify the life a little.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another Version of U2's "WIndow in the Skies"

Very creative and cool. Love the pictures of the classic artists...

Random Events Over the Past Few Weeks

Geez - so much has gone on over the past few weeks. Here are some updates and pics:

Bay Area Reload - Our local Reload event was again a success. This year we were at Patten University in Oakland. I haven't seen the final numbers, but I estimate we had just under 300 in attendance. Thanks to all the UYWI staff for their hard work. Also thanks to the BCM staff, Patten staff, School of Urban Missions, our COGIC family and Angie Ibarra from Teen Mania. It was a blessing and honor to again serve with our Bay Area leaders and Larry Acosta's staff from Reload. We're praying that God will bring unity and peace to our region.

- East Palo Alto Peace and Unity March - As reported on this blog and in the mass media it's been a violent month in EPA. As a result of the communities efforts to bring peace and unity, a group of local leaders, spearheaded by the Pacific Islander community, planned and hosted a local march. It was a resounding success. I actually got emotional while I marched. There was such a palatable sense of the blessing of God on the event. It is really true that God commands a blessing when his people come together in unity.

My wife Melissa was interviewed on the news. You can see it HERE.

What an amazing day. I'm very proud to be living in this community.

- About two weeks ago Rudy hosted an impromptu conference call / prayer meeting. It was a great encouragement to me to be praying with some of my brothers from across the country who are dealing with some of the same issues we are in terms of violence in our community. Two local young leaders, Calvin and Buddy, came by and ended up praying with us. I appreciate Rudy for taking the time to pull this off. Things have been much better in our community. Prayer works!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jeremy Del Rio's dad, "Pastor Harley"

This is Jeremy Del Rio's father. Haven't met him yet - but crashed in his church last time I was in NYC. I can see where Jeremy gets his spirit!

Why Are Blacks Leaving Evangelical Ministries?

EXCELLANT article (thanks Rudy) in Christianity Today about racism and multi cultural staffing at Christian organizations.

I used to take a certain amount of pride in being the first African American on staff at Christianity Today. But I was routinely humbled when I realized that being first isn't all it's cracked up to be. When you're the only one, there's always a sense that you're in an extremely unstable position, as if one healthy gust of wind could topple you—and with you, the hopes of other people with your skin color.

Sometimes, I had to remind myself to "be black," to make sure the rest of the editors weren't overlooking some important point or advancing something that might be insensitive to nonwhites. This became exhausting. On the one hand, I wanted to be a good race man and represent "my people" well. But on the other, I hated all that responsibility. I just wanted to be an excellent journalist.

The author concludes:
So let me pose a few questions.

White Christian, you have people of color on your staff, but are you seeking their ideas and perspectives? Does your corporate culture reflect sensitivity to the feelings and concerns of nonwhite individuals? You've spoken to the black people who attend your church, but have you had them over to watch the game after service? Have you invited them to join your small group?

Black Christian, have you been keeping at an arm's distance those white acquaintances who have attempted to get to know you better? Have you written off some whites as racists because of silly comments they didn't realize were offensive? Have you taken the time to educate them about your culture, answering all of their probing questions about your hair care or your opinion of some black celebrity?

White Christian, you hugged and apologized to that nameless black person at an out-of-town conference, but have you made any new friends across racial lines since you've returned home? Are you now more attuned to the subtle ways society treats whites differently from blacks?

Black Christian, are you hanging on to unresolved bitterness against whites? Are you harboring bigotry of your own? Have you been ignoring God's command to extend grace? Are you resisting his call to become a bridge between the races, because you realize that bridges, by definition, must be stepped on?

As Christians, it's possible for us to do wonderfully holy things cross-culturally without ever experiencing a fundamental change in our thinking. To break out of the monochromatic status quo of today's evangelical movement, we must confront hard truths about ourselves and about the things that truly drive our institutions. If we don't, we'll never find ourselves in that place of total freedom and faith and unity that allows us to be used by God in radical ways.

As evangelical leaders, are we trusting in God to use us to build his kingdom—in all its glorious diversity—or are we busy trying, in his name, to preserve our own? If we expect to see God move us toward a place of true and lasting unity, we cannot do business as usual.

Nor can we simply wait. The cost of maintaining the status quo is too high.

Wow.. great stuff, very prophetic.