Module 5.1 – All

Module 5.1 - Stewardship

For those in Fresno, did you know Brookings Institution research shows that Fresno has the second-highest concentration of poverty of any other large city in the U.S.? You can see what this problem looks like at the Every Neighborhood Partnership website – https://everyneighborhood.org/maps/. What is the responsibility of those of us with resources to see change come to conditions like these? Write in your Core Journal about your vision of the world. Is it small? Just focused on your own bubble? What would happen if you took a broader view and gave more to others? Don’t be condemned by these thoughts. You might already be a very generous person, so celebrate that. Just check your heart and share your thoughts. Finally, let me challenge you to go see a part of your town or city that might not be familiar to you. Spend some time getting out of your “small town.”

Name: Micah Ruiz Esparza

When a business or organization takes responsibility for it's city, everything in the business will get better too. As the value of your community grows and you invest in them, they will invest in you. Even just on a practical level, the value of your property would go up if you dealt with certain issues and would be more desirable for people to live there and invest more in you.

At the moment, I live in a small town. I don't know anyone from this area right now, and I definitely don't know their needs. Kansas City is a huge area. I will say that I get some exposure at my second job (working at the cabinet building company). There are a lot of lower income people who work there or people who live in the sketchy part of town. I haven't been there long enough to get to know them well but I am sure I will. In my small area, there are a lot of homeless people. We live in a higher income area and so I am sure the homeless are getting money from people but not seen respectfully as human beings.

My brother actually lives in a sketchy part of town where there are a lot of people living on the streets. The only interactions I’ve had with people are positive. Through my journey, I have learned to see people as humans. They aren't inconveniences or defined by their situation. They have the same needs and desires I have, just less resources given to them to achieve that. I hope to do more in the community as my wife and I get more settled in and involved. Right now we have been focused on getting my wife a job and getting used to my jobs.

For those in Fresno, did you know Brookings Institution research shows that Fresno has the second-highest concentration of poverty of any other large city in the U.S.? You can see what this problem looks like at the Every Neighborhood Partnership website – https://everyneighborhood.org/maps/. What is the responsibility of those of us with resources to see change come to conditions like these? Write in your Core Journal about your vision of the world. Is it small? Just focused on your own bubble? What would happen if you took a broader view and gave more to others? Don’t be condemned by these thoughts. You might already be a very generous person, so celebrate that. Just check your heart and share your thoughts. Finally, let me challenge you to go see a part of your town or city that might not be familiar to you. Spend some time getting out of your “small town.”

Name: Jill West

I'm definitely completely in a bubble in my town. When I first moved here, I was excited to experience things, meet people and get to know the area. This was in 2018. I knew the area was heavily conservative Christian but it wasn't nasty like it is now. Things were not as political as they got towards the end of 2019. There was a drastic change and it was extremely noticeable to me, being an outsider.

I remember when I first visited and got a kick out of this particular yard sign that I saw everywhere. It was in a childlike font and said "Thank you, Jesus" with a yellow background. It was literally everywhere - there were even Spanish versions and car magnets! I asked my sister-in-law about it and she said she thought some kid from a neighboring town had drawn it, but wasn't entirely sure of its origin. Itt had been a long time since I was surrounded by religious zealots and, up in the city, it had never been as widespread as it was here in the Bible Belt. I grew up in an area of Philadelphia that was separate from the rest of the city and about 90% white, Italian, Catholic business owners. I wasn't new to the herd mentality or even new to being the black sheep of the herd, but it was still a different type of "outsider" feeling.

I was in a great place mentally and emotionally so none of it bothered me. I enjoyed the way strangers would just talk to you about random things in the aisle at the supermarket or at the gas station. It was short-lived and then politics and Covid hit. The politeness went away and people became cold and distrusting. My northern accent, which had occasionally raised eyebrows, became a scarlet letter. When the mask mandate was first implemented, we were among the rare people who complied. The stores cut their hours and we were unable to avoid the majority by shopping later.

For the first time since I had moved here, I was homesick for the city. Not only did I feel isolated because I was technically isolated, I felt like a complete outcast in a hostile environment. That feeling hasn't changed, though I pretend it isn't there. The only difference is that I honestly don't feel homesick for the city. That thought was fleeting because I have always known I didn't belong there.

I actually just had to stop writing because I was overcome with grief over the change I've seen in this area. The yard signs went from "Thank you, Jesus" to "Trump 2020" then to "All Lives Matter" "Back the Blue" and "Q-Anon". Now there are "Fuck Biden" confederate and Don't Tread on Me flags but, mostly, just no signs at all. In just a few years, they went from Jesus to darkness. The only people who express anything biblical are the ones using verses to support their hatred.

What is the stage between faith and deconstruction? I think it's lost. They are lost. They have either gotten on board with the Christian Nationalism or have fallen away completely. I realize that a lot of the country thinks that everyone in these rural areas are right wing extremists, but that's not what I see at all. We just don't see them because they don't want to be seen, and I fear that they certainly don't see themselves.

I've had this nagging feeling for a while now, but I've mostly ignored it because it's not what I want to hear. I feel compelled to help the young people who are experiencing faith crises but that's a terrifying idea for a "Yankee bitch" in a strange area. My own family freaked out when I told them that my ten year old niece talked to me about "being saved" in her church youth group. I got a response as though I said "Zoey walked in on me watching BDSM porn and snorting cocaine with strippers!"

"What did you say???"
"Um... I asked her what it meant to her?"
(Not giving two shits what it meant to the child) "What else did you say??? I'm going to have to talk to her! What kind of antichrist shit did you feed her???"

They were perfectly fine with a strange church lady commandeering their child's soul but were afraid of her aunt asking her what she thought it meant to have Jesus in her heart. Before all this bullshit started, I was the go-to for questions they had about the Bible because I was the only one actually educated on it. None of the adults go to church - they just parrot right-wing talking points about religion. My sister-in-law went to one of the "pop-up" churches a few times and admitted she stopped because they giving her too much anxiety with the fear mongering. They know NOTHING about the Bible and have never had a problem with me talking to the kids about it. One time, their 12 year old had not done her chores and was not allowed to go to youth group so I had Bible study with her in the fucking kitchen!!! They don't even get out of the car when they drop them off and pick them up. They know NOTHING about the people they leave their kids with, but I'm suddenly a threat?

This is why feeling called to do something faith-based in this area is not something I want to listen to. My husband and I saw some teenagers holding up signs with Bible verses and he suggested I ask them what the verses meant to them. They are questions I have always asked when talking about the Bible with kids.
"What part did you like best? Why? What does that mean to you?"

I wanted to, I honestly did... but I like being alive. I swear these people will kill me for talking to their children, I'm not even joking. In management, I always did well with young adults so maybe that's a direction I could look into? Again, this is something I've had on my mind for a while because of what I see as a complete lack of viable options in this area. It's not something I think I can really pull off though. I'm not a preacher.

For those in Fresno, did you know Brookings Institution research shows that Fresno has the second-highest concentration of poverty of any other large city in the U.S.? You can see what this problem looks like at the Every Neighborhood Partnership website – https://everyneighborhood.org/maps/. What is the responsibility of those of us with resources to see change come to conditions like these? Write in your Core Journal about your vision of the world. Is it small? Just focused on your own bubble? What would happen if you took a broader view and gave more to others? Don’t be condemned by these thoughts. You might already be a very generous person, so celebrate that. Just check your heart and share your thoughts. Finally, let me challenge you to go see a part of your town or city that might not be familiar to you. Spend some time getting out of your “small town.”

Name: inpower test

testing journal for mod5 pt1 @142

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