Investing Love in Nashville’s Inner City

This blog was written by Athentikos’ own David Lee, who has been a key player in the development and execution of our Summer 2017 IAA camps at Front Porch Ministry. 

As I reflect on the first three domestic I Am Art events and we head into our art show, I am very grateful to be a part of what is happening in Nashville.  Front Porch Ministry has been a blessing to partner with and the work that they are doing cannot be understated.  The community they serve has a population of kids that have great potential.  Thom and Michele are truly investing into these kids with love.  Watching the family operate and the relationships they have with the kids there is a beautiful thing.  Their work is truly a work of compassion.

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The projects that we have put on so far have brought together local artists and inner city kids. This is opening channels of communication from the far reaches of the county all the way to downtown.  The stories I was originally told about the neighborhood we have been working in were somber and detailed a hardened community but as I met more and more people that lived there I saw hope and grace that was being cultivated around the literal front porch of Thom and Michele’s house.

The mural was our first splash into this community and that is exactly what it became.  We played water games and painted our way through the heat of Nashville’s June until we completed a 24 foot long mural!  We cannot thank local artist Ellie Caudill enough for the time and talent that she invested in the lives of these children and in the beauty of this neighborhood.  Our first camp was with a smaller group and consisted of an abstract self portrait workshop led by other local artists, Lauren Dunn and our own Amelia Moore.  We were able to focus deeply into individual friendships and develop long lasting relationships.  I think that these projects have truly made an impact in the children’s lives and we look forward to displaying these works at the end of the summer.  

The conversations that we have around creating these art pieces always explore the theme of how we handle conflict in our lives.  Having these conversations in Guatemala for the last three years presented an interesting juxtaposition to the inner city Nashville neighborhood, however, the result remains the same. Grace presents us with the path to ultimately resolve the conflict in our lives and this journey can be done with creativity and community! We just completed our last Nashville I Am Art camp that ran from July 20-22 and we ask that you pray for our Art Show tomorrow on July 28th. The art show is such a pivotal part of our camps as it brings our young artists a sense of pride in their gifts from God. It is the perfect ending to this beautiful story of I AM ART.

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Homelessness is a global problem.  Unpredictable and harsh conditions create unique challenges in each climate for people living without shelter.  Even the weather here in Tennessee can be challenging to the homeless population.

Although the specific focus of Becoming Fools is concerned with homeless youth in Guatemala City, but our hope is that Becoming Fools would inspire people to action in their local communities around the world.  With this blog, and many to follow, we hope to educate and encourage people not only in Nashville and Guatemala, but people in Michigan, people in Canada, people in Australia, Oregon, California and all around the world to join the movement in making a difference in this struggle.

Hot or Cold? Challenges in Any Weather

Hot or Cold?

Which is worse?  The freezing cold, or the sweltering heat?  I think even my Mom and I disagree on this question because everyone has their own preference and tolerance.  But which condition is more dangerous for someone living on the streets?  The answer to this question greatly depends on where you live.  Here in Tennessee, where we experience true seasons, both could be similarly threatening to those in the streets.  Nashville Rescue Mission mentions the often-overlooked dangers of extreme heat:

In contrast to those families planning summer vacations, the homeless are faced with survival concerns: how to stay cool and how to stay hydrated. The homeless can be particularly vulnerable to heat waves because they cannot easily take steps to protect themselves, such as staying in air-conditioned places, avoiding direct sun and drinking plenty of water. Some of those living on the streets might be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or suffering from mental illness and are not thinking clearly. Add this to heat and dehydration and you have a lethal combination.

In Howell, Michigan the United Methodist Church opens their doors to the homeless during the winter to provide food and shelter from harsh weather.  The combination of below-freezing temperatures and snow in Northern states present often fatal conditions.

Although each season presents it’s own unique set of challenges to people living in the streets, all require assistance.  Next time you adjust the thermostat in your home, think twice about what it would be like to not have one.  As Nashville Rescue Mission puts it, “Those with low or fixed incomes are also at risk. Many of them are forced to choose between eating or turning on their air conditioner”.