Friday, March 12, 2010

Annual Report

Having successfully navigated our first year in the Mulberry House, I thought this would be a good time to look back on our activities. There are many things I could talk about, but for the sake of expediency, I will break this post into 4 categories. I will briefly discuss developments in the area of maintenance and upgrades, creativity, our interactions with the neighborhood, and “public relations.” If all this text is too daunting, feel free to jump to the nutshell version below.

This is as close as you’ll ever get to an Annual Report… so enjoy!

First, note that we have progressed from an abstract idea to a concrete house with three committed individuals.

Maintenance and Upgrades:
Here are all the things we have done to the house/grounds in our first year.
We ran some new gas line down in the basement to accommodate our gas dryer (which was formerly on a different level than the washing machine). We also did some electrical work, updating a bit of wiring and putting in some new outlets. We painted our dining room, put up some new blinds, and hung some pictures. We insulated the attic, taking significant steps toward energy efficiency. We removed our flimsy front door and installed a stronger, more energy-efficient exterior door. We also boast a new storm door at the back entrance. We tore up all the old and decrepit landscaping in our front and side yards, planting grass and giving way for a pretty lawn. We removed a pond from the back yard and cleared large amounts of rubble from the area. We replaced some older light fixtures with more efficient models. We replaced a rusted out sink in the downstairs bathroom with a new sink, vanity, and medicine chest. We did some work on our upstairs plumbing when we had a clogged drain pipe. We have done extensive work on our furnaces, rebuilding one of them piece by piece and resulting in a bizarre Franken-furnace. We built a new tool shed in the back yard after a rogue windstorm crushed our first shed.

Creativity:
The beautiful thing about community is that it fosters creativity. When you are working together to build something new, all sorts of imaginative innovation can occur. We have found ourselves excelling in a variety of creative areas. We designed and built a huge dining room table, painted an original design on the top of it, and stained it. We acquired a sewing machine and successfully made a few pairs of pants. I was able to sew two quilts, two purses, and two wallets for loved ones this past Christmas. We had a pretty successful garden this year, yielding a decent harvest of various useful vegetables. With the goal in mind of raising chickens, we designed and built our own chicken coop in the backyard; we have one chicken and expect about three more in the near future. Each of us has continued to develop our own creative energies, whether it be writing, writing/recording music, or something else.

Our Neighborhood love affair:
We have made great strides in the local bar scene. We have become regulars in one bar in particular. We are known among the other locals and we get hugs from some of our friends at each visit. Two homeless men have stayed on our premises: one in the living room and one in a tent in the yard. Tim Miller and I have joined a local church plant in our neighborhood while Tim Voltz continues to be a voice for this neighborhood at a church on the north side of town. Periodically throughout the year, I have visited inmates at the Clark County Jail, and I have continued my mentoring work among troubled teens. All three of us attended our first neighborhood association meeting, and while we are unsure of what developments if any will come from this, we enjoyed hearing the voices of our community.

Public Relations:
Of course, the name of this category is tongue and cheek. This refers to ways in which we have been able to pitch the vision to others. I have had numerous opportunities to speak and preach in a handful of churches, in Springfield and the Columbus area. Similarly, I spoke at one youth rally and one fund-raiser for ministries to the homeless. We have been interviewed for several articles and informal documentaries. Our letter to the editor appeared in the local newspaper denouncing the anti-begging ordinance. We have hosted various student groups here at the house from Cedarville University and Wittenberg University. We have also served as “guest speakers” at meetings for a few student orgs at Cedarville. Numerous visitors have joined us at the house, some staying overnight, others just for dinner. We have been able to network with Consp!re magazine to an extent, writing for the publication and being a part of their online community.

There, in a whirlwind, is a taste of some of the things that have been happening here.

NUTSHELL:

I want to quickly make an observation about these things. You may notice that many of these accomplishments, activities, and events have been focused on us. I do not mean this in a totally negative sense, but it is noteworthy that our first year was marked primarily by work within our own walls.

I personally feel that, while there are certainly opportunities for huge growth and improvement, we are taking slow, measured steps in the right direction. I am pleased with the community and I look forward to our continued collaboration.

In our first year, we have kept our focus primarily WITHIN the house. By this, I mean we spent the majority of our energy on “housekeeping” matters. Making a garden for our own use, doing maintenance on our own home, hosting visitors to pitch our own vision… these things are all important. We have gotten to know each other, unleashed various aspects of our previously untapped creativity, and done some work on our habitat.

Now, as we continue to mature, it is time for us to focus more outside our own walls.

As I think forward to the coming years, my heart’s desire is to see a community of men and women with a relentless, subversive passion for the aggressive expansion of the kingdom of God and the restoration and renewal of His Creation. Concurrently, it is my prayer that our community will be known by our love and that, in our meekness, we will be strong.

We have built a house and inhabited it; now let us spend our time outside, inviting others to come in.

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