Tag Archive: philly

map of oakland

i was asking that question as i walked [by myself!] to the office today as tbV had a meeting at Darin’s house…

and the obvious answer would be 50th street [i’m convinced it’s 51st in my head so have to type it down now or i may not find my way back home] Oakland, California, Americaland…

but i’m looking a little deeper, after 19 months in the ‘hood of Kensington, Philly [where in the city if you told people where you were from they would respond with “you live in Kensington???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] how would one exactly describe this place?

Oakland and San Francisco

it’s not ‘hood. well not in the way that Kensington was ‘hood… but it’s definitely not Bishop’s Court… feels a little suburby, but heard from the people we’re staying behind that they used to live in the suburbs so probably not that. we did get the “you live in Oakland???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] when we visited San Francisco on Sunday so in these parts maybe it’s still seen as ‘hood or ‘hoodish… just not sure if it will get me quite enuff street cred for saying i live here – is there a more ‘hood’ ‘hood than Oakland? will have to ask…

i like it though. only been here about a week [not even] so still got to get the vibe of the place, but tbV and i loved Kensington and i think we will love this place too – not as many people in your face, on your street as there where which was one of the highlights of Kensington but the people we’ve passed have for the most part been really friendly, and then there was the bag lady.

the bag or one like it...

no, not that. walking back from San Fran on Sunday we encountered this African American all-dressed-up-for-a-party-or-is-that-maybe-how-she-normally-dresses woman who approached us and said “Can you pick up my bag?” We looked at the street corner where she was pointing and there was a gold coloured handbag on the ground – so Val says, “You pick it up” but the lady was clearly freaked out and she asks again, “No, No, No can you guys please just pick up my bag?” I ask, “What’s wrong with it?” She says, “Nothing.” so we tell her again to just pick it up and she goes closer and then backs away and then goes closer and makes like she’s going to and then backs away again going, “No, No, No, Please just pick up my bag.”

at this point i’m wondering is there a bomb in there? a deadly tarantula? a bag of chocolate covered raiSINs with all the chocolate licked off [we all have our fears!] and so we decide to keep on walking and hope that wouldn’t-have-passed-the-Tour-de-France-urine-test lady managed to eventually get her stuff and make it home okay.

this is where we currently work

so definitely a taste of Kensington…

and i guess we’ll figure out more as we get to explore more and as we hopefully find a more permanent place to stay [maybe today!] and hopefully get to call this place home for the next year or so…

last nite at our simple way potluck we had some directors come show us a documentary they made about a family from columbia – the main thrust of the movie was about these fumigations that americaland funds to try and nail cocaine fields in columbia [planes flying over and dumping poison] altho in a nutshell the poison kills all food crops completely and the coca plant which is the intended victim grows back in three months or is not harmed at all – many families are displaced and this movie follows one of them [you can catch more on www.giveusnames.org and the movie is called ‘Leaving La Floresta’ – if you’re in the Philly area and want to organise a screening i imagine these guys will be super keen – did one for 20 to 30 people in the gathering last nite]

one of the things that struck me about this movie [and it was a great documentary] was that none of the guys involved had any formal training – they were just college students who wanted to change the world [as we all do then] and decided that the best way to do that was to start with one family [they have raised the 4000 dollars needed to get the family out of not-so-pleasant city circumstances they were forced into and back into a farming community where they will be able to live the kind of life they wanted for their family] and so they picked up all the filming and editing skills they needed along the way.

i suspect this theme is going to continue to be hammered out in these blogs of mine and readers may feel free to get pissed off and unfollow and feel judged and whatever, but the more people i meet over here who are making a significant difference, the more unamped i get with people whose lives seem to revolve simply around themselves, their friends and largely having a good time [and possibly trying not to be “too bad” whatever that means]. that just is not good enough.

i don’t want it to seem like americaland has all the people that are doing this and south africa doesn’t, because i know so many people back home who are living these kind of lives that are having a dramatic influence on one life, on a family’s life, on the life of a village or school or area… but this is directed at people both over here and over there who are just focused on the person in the mirror and the people they like hanging out with. it seems like hedonism is a chief idol worship of our times.

these college okes looked around and spotted something horribly wrong and said, “we have to do something about that” and then made a plan – it’s that easy. and i’m sure the process and so on wasn’t easy altho i imagine it’s pretty easy to rally involvement and money and resources around an idea as good as saving or uplifting lives. where people get trapped is when the conversation ends at the latest movie, computer game or sporting event… and the money ends at the latest holiday, or gadget or fixed investment… and the time ends at a 60 hour a week job with overtime so as to make the money for the gadget to watch the sporting event. and so on.

i’m not talking a gospel of works. because the gospel is works. not a focus on works. but works stemming out of an understanding of the love we have been shown. they are not two separate things. james clearly shows this. show me a faith that doesn’t express itself in works and i will show you a pile of raisins. okay that MAY be a paraphrase from the brett james version of the bible. but this is Jesus stuff. it is the matthew 25 sheep and goats parable lived out. not giving someone a handout so you stop feeling bad, but making a significant impact in the life of a person, of a family, of a community. doing something for one of the least of these. and then another.

ephesians 3.20 God is able to do more than all we can hope or imagine. if all we are hoping or imagining is more money and bigger toys then may God forgive us and have mercy on our lives. but the point of it is most of us hope and imagine way too little. if God is really saying that He is able to do more than all we can hope or imagine then we should be hoping and imagining bigger. raise the bar for God because He’s up for the challenge. if your bar is set at ‘have a good feeling life’ for example that is pretty low. helping a local family get their kid into and through university and you’re starting to talk. cut the aids rate of your community by thirty percent. higher still. imagine what great works God can do once people with more creative hoping and imagining start to put their lives in His hands and say “pick me!!”

and use your strengths – i think of my friends bruce and bex who i love to bits and who continue to amaze me with the incredible photography they take – see www.lovemadevisible.co.za – they took their gifting [or one of them – photography] and linked it to a passion and a hope and imagining and got people to donate towards a project aimed at getting clean water to a whole village [which you can read more about here]. a fairly simple thing but took some creativity and effort and time and money contribution and it was done.

possibly one of the best things about this whole hoping and imagining bigger and then living it out is that it is an excellent thing to do in community. so mobilise a friend or friends or even a whole community and do something together. just do something. life is too short not to. be the significance you want to see in the world.

so for those of you who haven’t quite figured out or gotten involved with my life at the simple way blog yet, here are my first three links to some wild goose festival blogging that i have just done… this week tbV and myself are back in the ‘hood and will be getting going with our specific work…




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