Village Wrench: Bike (L)earning

What do you know about The Village Wrench?

VillageWrench from Kaleb Ross on Vimeo.


Learn more about The Village Wrench, a part of Mill Community Ministries (Greenville, SC).


Dark Stripes

See the Stripes Poem

This poem was written and produced a year ago. It’s about Clemson University’s dark and striped past, in its link with the brutal institution of slavery.

I’m sure that people will react on all parts of the spectrum. Some will embrace the words too much and resist a hope that can only be found in the gospel, and some will oppose this poem too much and resist a chance at gospel-centered reconciliation.

Take a few minutes to watch and listen to See the Stripes by A.D. Carson:

Here’s a snippet that stands out to me:

“for some reason or another—
it’s uncomfortable for some people to talk about
slave owners, supremacists and segregationists on those terms,”

You can read the full poem here.

What’s the call-to-action? I think it’s about acknowledging the facts and having others-centered conversations. Too often, we (and I’m pointing at myself, too) want to assert our feelings and opinions and facts, and insist on being heard first.

As I tell kids at in our programs, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, because He wants us to listen more than talk.”

Let’s be open to loving dialogue.

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  Colossians 4:6

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

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Poverty and Violence

Are we trying to solve poverty (through short-term relief and long-term development) when we really should be looking at violence, a core determinant of poverty and hardship?

Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, explains:


I like the idea that he points out, that there is a difference between having laws and enforcing laws. “Most poor people live outside of the protection of law.”

Decades of anti-poverty efforts don’t address the justice issue of slavery and everyday violence. (For more on this, check out what Dr. Jay Richards says is the first thing you need to solve poverty.)

Haugen speaks about global poverty and global violence. But I wonder how much of this can be applied to poverty within our own country?

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Circles Initiative

Have you heard of the Circle Initiative? Here’s a snapshot:

I’m hankful for this initiative (which is going on all over the country, including right here in Greenville, SC). The mission and success of programs like this is why I firmly believe that relationships are the pathway to solving social issues.

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[Video] Racism by the Numbers

Yes, racism is big and complex. But if you are in the majority (a white American who doesn’t think race bias exists), you should watch this 4-minute video:

But remember, “Data is cold, in a way that humans are not.”

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What Do You Know About Poverty in the US?

food-bank-food-pantry-poverty reuters david_McNewWhat comes to mind when you think of “poverty”? Do you know these facts about poverty?

From Joe Carter:

  1. How we measure poverty hasn’t changed in 50 years.
  2. The poverty threshold is based on a statistic (percentage of income that is spent on food) that has dramatically changed.
  3. The poverty line is currently about half of the median income in the US.
  4. Anti-poverty efforts by churches are not reflected in poverty calculations.
  5. The US government spends more to fight poverty than it would take to raise poor families above the poverty threshold.
  6. The poverty rate has decreased in the past 50 years, from 19% to 15%.
  7. The poverty rate among married couples is only 6%.
  8. The typical poor family in the US is far better off than the typical poor person in most other countries.
  9. About 100,000 people in the US are chronically homeless.

From Napp Nazzworth:

  1. Poverty hurts your ability to think.
  2. Poverty and obesity go together (in the US).
  3. Global poverty has decreased, while inequality has increased.
  4. Poverty among blacks has decreased in the past 50 years, while poverty among Hispanics have increased.
  5. Marriage matters.

Lastly, watch this short video for an answer to the basic question, “What Is Poverty?” (courtesy of the Chalmers Center):

Did you learn anything new? Or maybe you’d like to share your countering thoughts or questions?

Let us hear from you in the comments below, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Also, if you liked this post, please consider sharing it with others. It’s easy – you can just click one of the sharing buttons below.

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**image courtesy of David McNew via Reuters

Gentrification: The Struggle Is Real

Is gentrification always bad? Let’s listen to these guys:

(I hope you weren’t offended. Actually, I don’t care if you were. At the least, it’s not as bad as this Black History Month skit from SNL.)

Whether gentrification (which usually has the connotation of middle- to upper-class white people moving into a poor black community, subsequently driving up housing costs) is a bad thing depends on who you ask. I’ve even heard an African-American pastor (who ministers in a very poor community in Greenville, SC), say, “Some people call it gentrification. I just call it capitalism.”

And others say that not only is gentrification rare, but it is ultimately good for those in poverty.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your comments or questions, on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments section below.

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For humor . . .

For seriousness . . .