Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Upside of Urban Living

Ray Bakke invites families to live in urban communities with benefits that far outweigh liabilities

These quotes are by Ray Bakke from an online article. Bakke, author of The Urban Christian and director of Urban Associates, resides in Chicago.

LEARN TO GET ALONG. "Our cities are famous for violence and strife. But I see them as R&D units, where different kinds of people are learning to get along. Whites, Blacks, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, Christians -- people with different languages and cultures are crafting new ways to live and communicate, to work and raise their children. It is possible to construct a life of denial and avoidance. But once you've hidden your kids away in a gated community, how will you educate them to have perspective? Cities expose us to perspectives that are important for the times in which we live."

CHALLENGE: CULTURAL DISTANCE. "The real challenge facing the world is not geographic distance but cultural distance. I think of Jackson, Mississippi as a father to Chicago, because a million and a half black people from Mississippi came here. Poland is our mother, because 840,000 Poles came to Chicago -- 100,000 more Poles than San Francisco has people. We have all kinds of cultures in our cities. How are we going to live together and work together?"

LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS. "Stop looking at the city as if it were just a problem -- with poor, locked-out people. That's seeing only the victim. See the city as an R&D unit. I've done consultations in more than 200 cities. When people in those cities ask for help, I say, 'Most of what you need to know is already in your city.' I bring together the best models of urban ministry, and we all teach each other what we're learning."

NETWORKS MAKE CHANGE. "I used to go to conferences where we'd hear famous experts tell us how to do things. That model brought people together, but the audience was passive. What we do is get people together, connect needs with resources, and build the bridges that make change happen. We link people to each other and turn them into associates. We walk alongside them, encourage and mentor them, and, if possible, secure grants for them."

THE POWER OF OPTIMISM. "Cities today are famous for their violence. But what amazes me is that the city wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and is as quiet as it is. I'm amazed that the subways still run, that so many people still say 'Hi' on the street -- and that... living in the city can shape our children for the better. We get to introduce them to the cultures of the world. Living in the city is a great experience that offers tremendous advantages. We need to reflect on these advantages more often than we do."

Read the full article on Bakke.

John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 

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