November 12 – Field Trip to St. Chiara

Over the past week a lot has happened with Atangard.  First off, the proposal we put forth to the city was voted upon and it passed!  And without any opposition.  This is huge.  It is another big hurdle that is now behind us.  It’s so good have tangible progress.  There are still other clerical issues that need to be dealt with such as insurance, but getting approval of the proposal is a big step in the right direction.

On Monday, November 10, several people from the project headed out to Vancouver to meet with the people of St. Chiara’s who live in community in the downtown Eastside.  There are four main houses that are part of this community housing where they have an open door policy for meals and have several people who live there part time.  In total there are about 40 people in residence there with a core group of original members.  Kathy and Lane spoke with the people who were out there (Sophie, Carissa, Jim, Beth, Mark, Dave V, Dan, Debby, Dave S) about what they were doing and why it was they have made the choice to pursue living in a tight knit community and serving those around them.  They posed some difficult questions trying to see why it is that we are seeking to do something similar to what it is they have.  The group was challenged to find a concrete reason, or goal that they can unite within so that they can succeed in their efforts to make positive changes in Downtown Abbotsford.  Specifically each person was asked why they wanted to live at Atangard.  This got me thinking a bit, and as I don’t intend on living at Atangard.  My current goal is to finish my schooling and to do this I need to move to the States for a few years, if all goes as I am planning that would mean that I’ll be moving next fall.  So, why is it then that I’m involved in this at all?   I came up with two things: first I plan on helping with the renovations.  I have skills in that area as it’s my current job and want to contribute in any was I can.  And secondly, and I think this reason is more important to me.  Even though living in Atangard isn’t a goal of mine right now, many of the people who do want to live there are close friends of mine, and it’s their goal to live there.  So for me, the main reason I’m involved is to help and support my friends in any way I can to help them achieve their goals.  It’s the only thing that makes sense for me to do, so I do it as best I can.
What stuck out most to me as a theme of the conversation around St. Chiara was the challenge from Kathy and Lane to commit, and not just unofficially, but to really commit to a time period for how long you intend on living in Atangard.  They stressed that this was a very important issue.  The general sense of the discussion was that long term commitment is scary.  We don’t like being “held down” for an extended period of time.  We like our ability to get up and go whenever we like if circumstances change, or if we just don’t feel like doing whatever it is we’re doing anymore.  Often it’s easier to abandon a situation rather than stick around and work it out.  It’s very evident in our culture by the number of failed marriages we see or hear about.  Commitment has become a word of convenience; if it’s convenient for me, I’ll be committed.  If we don’t stand by our commitments we’re just flakes.
To close out the night, Jamie spoke.  He shared the experience he had while at Interns at ACA.  He talked about the struggles he had with what he thought to be how a Christian should act, and the holding back of emotions that he thought a “good” Christian shouldn’t have.  When he started to put aside these notions of how he thought he should act emotions he had suppressed started to come out and although is was a hard process and still is, it has been a healthy one.
That about sums up the meeting that was, so I’m going to sign off at that,

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