“With kinship as the goal, other essential things fall into place; without it, no justice, no peace. I suspect that were kinship our goal, we would no longer be promoting justice – we would be celebrating it.” — Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program in Los Angeles.
As I shared in an earlier post “How Can I Keep from Singing?” our family has been parishioners of Old St. Pat’s (locally known as OSP) for over 22 years. There have been several sacred moments. The March 2011 Lenten service by Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest, had a lasting impact on our parish as a motivation to launch the Kinship Initiative with community partners in Chicago’s North Lawndale.
Parts of OSP’s Kinship Creed include:
• Kinship is an invitation for all to share their gifts. It enriches through loving service, fostering interconnectedness and mutuality.
• Kinship is an orientation of the spirit. It embodies an attitude of justice, being both the journey and the destination.
• Kinship is love in action.
The Initiative is rooted in Assets Based Community Development [ABCD]. Last month, parishioners were invited to learn about ABCD from John L. McKnight, co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and formerly the director of community studies at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research. During the Kennedy Administration, John was the Midwest Director of the US Commission on Civil Rights and was a key advocate in Chicago’s early organizing on housing discrimination.
ABCD’s methodology is to encourage stakeholders to invest their human, material, spiritual, intellectual and financial gifts to further community assets. It promotes a “glass half-full” rather than “half-empty” perspective. John McKnight posed changing the question away from community needs to gifts and skills. He challenged attendees to reflect on what they are passionate for and what can they teach others.
These are the cornerstone of ABCD Institute’s 1993 seminal handbook, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. There are numerous other publications and community building resources available from the ABCD Institute.
OSP’s North Lawndale Kinship Initiative working groups are following the lead of community partners to do what they can to enrich and advance North Lawndale while the partners, in turn, also enrich and advance those participating. This partnership is galvanizing all to find kinship together. Contact Vince Guider, OSP’s Director of Community Engagement, to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org
A significant historical link can be found on the Kinship Initiative’s webpage — a report from Chicago Tonight (our PBS station’s news show) on August 7, 2014. The story relates the organizing in North Lawndale during the late ‘60s by the Contract Buyers League in response to African-American families getting ripped off back then while seeking their American Dream home.
WTTW’s webpage on this report also highlights an interview with Beryl Satter, the author of “Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America” about the work of her father Mark Satter, an activist attorney seeking justice. It also includes a unique poster prepared by the law firm Jenner & Block, which represented clients pro bono in the Contract Buyers League cases. In these current turbulent times, it merits remembering that justice has been sought for decades.
I’m not sure there are appropriate carol lyrics for this Christmas homily. Congressional chaos makes me think of Steve Earle’s “It’s Christmas time in Washington.” But his “Jerusalem” is more relevant to both the global and the local news.
It’s time for us to seek kinship, if we are ever to celebrate justice.
I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem
Well maybe I’m only dreamin’ and maybe I’m just a fool
But I don’t remember learnin’ how to hate in Sunday school
— Steve Earle, Jerusalem