Hey all! I’ve been trying to work on a blog post but then I realized that I have a TON of pictures that I want to share. So why not do another picture post? My last one got really positive reviews so we’ll give it another go.
This is a picture from the entrance to DC General which is a former hospital turned homeless shelter. There was an action with the Washington Interfaith Network that I attended where the DC Director of Human Services was put in direct contact with residents. The residents had the opportunity to list their demands which included basic human rights such as being provided with quality food that isn’t soggy, under-cooked or raw, to hurry up their rapid re-housing process to make sure that residents only had to stay in DC General for a month and quarterly meeting with the Director of Human Services and she agreed to all of these demands! It was a really powerful experience for me to walk inside DC General for the first time, a shelter I’ve heard so many terrible things about and the place that I was first inspired to pray when I got to town. Pictured above is the notorious metal detector of DC General which, among many other things, make families not want to call this place “home”.
Pictured above is a section of DC General from the outside. It makes me angry to see those boarded up windows and remember that there are people living inside of there. No one deserves to live in this sub-human environment. You might notice the playground outside which was put in by the Washington Interfaith Network. WIN and the residents were angry that families with children were living in DC General which is in a part of town where there is nothing even remotely kid friendly for miles and their closest neighbors are a morgue, a jail and a methadone clinic. When I look at this playground I see a beacon of hope in an otherwise desolate section of DC.
The pictures above and below are from Howard University’s Art Gallery. Howard University is the historic African American University in DC and the art gallery started in 1928 featuring only African American artists. I think I was struck by both of these pieces of art because they make the abstract look so simple while being incredibly detailed at the same time. I saw both of these and thought to myself, “Well I could do that!” which was followed by this other voice saying, “Well did you?” “No…” “Then stop talking.” Hope you enjoyed that brief insight into how my brain works! I am inspired by many types of art and I would love try my hand at some kind of art at some point in my life
Above and below are pictures from Washington Interfaith Network’s city-wide action. The main speakers were a few DC General Residents and the Mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser. Mayor Bowser had a lot of good things to say and committed to closing DC General by the end of what is now this year and to building new shelters that are smaller and would be considerably more livable. She also committed to stay in touch with DC General residents who work with WIN, Jennifer and Titania, to make sure they are being properly helped in their struggle to find affordable housing and sustainable, living-wage jobs. Despite all this positive publicity (click on the link below) and being provided with a chance to listen and talk to the disenfranchised of DC, the Mayor didn’t commit to coming to another WIN action. She said she would meet quarterly with WIN leaders but she did not want to make any more appearances to WIN members since she felt that a bunch of people sitting in a room isn’t helping solve the issues that we are trying to combat (I paraphrased a bit). Afterwards the head pastor at my church, Jeff Krehbiel, who is very involved with WIN, was telling me that apparently this is the time of year when people around her say,”You know, that WIN group doesn’t have anything to offer you.” Now the ball is in WIN’s court to prove to Mayor Bowser that we can get things done and assemble large groups of voters. Persistence and patience is essential in community organizing and those are two skills that I’m trying to hone in on in my everyday life.
Ever wonder what happens to Communion juice if you let it sit around in a closet for about a month? I hope this answers your question. The story behind this communion tray is that it is used for the Gay Pride parade which starts right in front of Church of the Pilgrims. One of the interns this past year was responsible for making it look “Gay” and Ashley, the co-pastor, had to send it back three time saying, “That’s not Gay enough!”
Above is a picture of a picture. At Church of the Pilgrims, the Young adults will be leading worship during the Epiphany season. Leading up to that, we are doing a lot of interesting and introspective discernment and reflection activities. This one was from an art gallery in Dupont Circle where we were given a prompt and had to find a picture that matched our prompt. Mine was to find a piece of art that is telling you something about your life and try to figure out what the message is. I identified with this photo because I am going through a big period of transition in my life. When I saw the open door with darkness on the other side I asked myself, is the door being opened or closed for someone to enter or exit? What is on the other side of the door? Why is it being opened or closed? I’ve been trying to get better at embracing the ominous, unexpected and unknown in my life and I feel like this photo really wrapped that up. The scary part is when I was going to take this picture and I saw my silhouette in the doorway! That was wayyy too real for me!
I thought these two pictures (above and below) were a cool contrast. One is of a Christmas tree downtown Washington and the other is the Washington Monument.
The seven pictures that follow are from a new exhibit at Renwick Gallery which is right across the street from the White House. The gallery had recently been remodeled and the theme of the exhibit is “Wonder”. All of the exhibits took up the whole room and all were assembled on site. These are some pictures of my favorite exhibits along with a couple of quotes that went along with a few of the exhibits which I found particularly thought provoking.
This exhibit was made mostly from index cards
This is a series of colored fishnets with colorful lights shining on different sections. This was inspired by pictures of the temperatures of the sea when the 2011 tsunami hit Japan. The earthquake that caused the tsunami was so strong it shortened our 24 hour days on earth by 1.8 milliseconds.
This room was COVERED in bugs! All of them were dead, none of them are endangered. I saw this as an invitation to reflect on wildlife being arranged in a way that is less than wild and perhaps more appealing to us city folk.
The next six pictures are from December 17 and 18. December is National Homeless Persons’ Memorial day and I helped make the signs for the vigil attended the vigil and the memorial service itself. Altogether it was a very spiritual and emotional couple days. I tell my experience through pictures but if you’d like to read a more in depth testament check out the article below from the Washington Post!
A Pilgrimage group that came in earlier that week helped us sand and paint the wood that we used to make these signs. On Wednesday and Friday, my supervisor Rachel, her roommate and myself all helped to write the 41 names on the plaques to be used during the vigil and as we marched through the streets of downtown Washington.
This is Ken Martin. During the vigil he shared a story about a time in his life when he was homeless. While he was homeless he had a heart attack and since he didn’t have a home, the only place he could go to recover was a chair outside a Starbucks. Over the next two weeks he had three more heart attacks. By some miracle Ken is still alive today, he is housed and he works with the People for Fairness Coalition and Street Sense which is a local newspaper written and sold by homeless people. I don’t remember all the specifics from his story but he is one powerful and eloquent individual.
Here we are walking through the streets of DC, holding up traffic and reminding everyone downtown that “Housing saves lives” “Housing is a human right” and “No one needs to die tonight”. This is one of my favorite things to do! Holding up traffic for a cause and getting random people on the street to stop and think about housing issues. I think it’s a great time and you meet some fun, like-minded people. If you ever get a chance to do so, DO IT!
This was after the march when we got to our heated tent which was right across the street from City Hall where the people who were staying out all night would protest in front of City Council in the morning. Now I don’t go as hard as the roughly 40 people who stayed out on the street in the tent over night but here you can see more names and the coffin we marched with. I hope you get an idea of the impact that we we had on people by walking through downtown DC with a coffin. Yes, it was empty but it was great to see the shocked looks on people’s face. We made it on the local Snapchat story that day and as I said earlier, they covered the service and march in the Washington Post.
Here’s a picture of the Memorial service the following morning. The highlights were between my pastor Ashley Goff sharing some words about grief, loss, and the importance of not forgetting and my roommate Angela giving the benediction. I was happy to be apart of this special day and I hope to make it a day that I commemorate no matter where I am living.
There are so many things I love about my job. A big one is our gratitude board! Everyday you have to write down something that you are grateful for. It took a while to get into a habit but it’s such a good practice and something I invite you to try out in your office or maybe even at home! I find it keeps me grounded and always looking for something in life that I can be happy for/about.
This picture wouldn’t be so dated if I had put up this blog in the timely manner that I intended but hey, life happens! This picture is from about a month ago but I really wanted to put up a picture of the DC YAVs! I’ve really gotten close with theses goofs over the past few months and it’s been a fun and sometimes challenging experience to grow into a community but we are a community! I really appreciate the bonds that we’ve built up so far and I’m looking forward to building onto those in the coming months.
Last but not least! I had to put up a picture of my time in Tucson over the holidays. Here’s my sister Britney and my feline-nephew Howie! My sister and I have always been close and I love the time that we get to spend together. As for Howie, he has confirmed my suspicion that when I eventually become an Uncle I’m gonna love those kids SO much because I’m already so in love with Howie, I mean look at that face!!! I could honestly start a new blog about that cat, but I digress… It was a great time to go back home to Tucson and spend time with my Mom, Dad, brother-in-law to be and of course Britney and Howie. My previous blog post is what I said at my home church on the 27th, if you’re interested please take a look! It was great to come home and be reminded of the amazing support I have in my home church. I’m grateful for everyone I’ve encountered on my journey so far and that includes all of you reading this! A happy new year to all and to all a happy new year.