About sixty participants converged on FCS’ offices for two days in mid-October, eager to learn at our annual Open House. The room represented a mix of ages, ministry experiences, and backgrounds. But a common purpose -- growing in skills for community development, gathered them. The open house exists for moments of discovery, the opportunity to learn from other practitioners of community development across the country. Below are some of the memorable quotes that arose from the two-day event.
#1 “As a city planner, aesthetics matter”
Donell Woodson emphasized the importance of beauty in honoring a neighborhood. On a walking tour of South Atlanta, colors popped across the neighborhood. The Lead Trainer and Consultant of Community Development pointed out residents who had painted murals on their houses’ exterior walls, a public stage one resident had erected, as well as the care with which FCS renovates its affordable housing. He noted that helping a neighborhood curate its voice and story through visible art and third spaces helps to define a sense of place, and of home.
#2 “Partnerships will fall flat without neighboring”
Katie Delp reflected on her nearly two decades living in South Atlanta and how doing so has shaped her partnerships as the Executive Director of FCS. In her talk, Katie highlighted how informal moments of crossover, like getting the mail or having kids home for snow days, have given her chances to develop mutual relationships with other residents of South Atlanta. While mutual relationship serves as an end in and of itself, Katie remarked that good programming often arises from proximity.
#3 “It will take longer and cost more than you expect”
Economic Development Director Jeff Delp dished out this nugget of wisdom as he shared about Carver Market and Community Grounds. Recounting some of the other business ventures that did not work out, Jeff playfully embraced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. He spoke about the ways in which business create “third spaces” in community, places outside the home and work where neighbors can overlap with each others’ lives.
#4 “This discussion gives me accountability”
One participant, a man in his fifties with a graying mustache, uttered this response toward the end of the event. “I know there are ways where I’m still doing relief, but this helps hold me accountable to tweak it up a couple notches.” Many others in the room nodded, resonating with FCS’ distinction between relief and community development. The participant, who had participated in ministry for years ,walked out of the room at the end of the event looking both thoughtful and hopeful.
#5 “What translates into your context?”
This question hung in the air as Lupton Center director Shawn Duncan closed out the Open House. In many ways, the inquiry illustrated the hopes of the Open House-- that ministry practitioners would catch inspiration for new ways to work towards community development in their own neighborhoods. Shawn held time for attendees to discuss their contexts in small groups. Maybe someday soon, the applications they ideated will ripple across the country!
We’re always grateful for the opportunity to receive visitors, their enthusiasm and their insights, into our space each year for the Open House. Even if you could not attend this year, be sure to check out The Lupton Center website for resources to implement in your community, as well as upcoming events. Thanks for learning with us!