Pastors only work on Sundays, right?

Today was one of those days. One of those wonderful, glorious days when it may have looked like I did very little to edit a church bulletin or craft a brilliant sermon, but the church and the people of God were foremost on my mind.

I began the day with a meeting in Barre (next town over) with a couple dozen people who are looking into some sustainable and long-term means of providing housing and shelter for people who need it, both in emergency cases, and more importantly, in transitional and long-term independent settings. I may have mentioned that this is a burning passion of mine, and has been for most of my life. This group, while still in the very beginning stages, is looking at the intersection of emergency shelter needs, long-term housing goals, employment opportunities, and sustainable independent living for the approximately 250 persons without housing in Washington County (according to the Vermont Point In Time study conducted to count the homeless [~190] and precariously housed [~50] people as of January, 2010). Once again, it is wonderful to be with so proactive and empowering a group of people. We have a long way to go yet, looking at some big questions, to try to determine where to focus time and resources, assuming financial resources can be made available in these days of shrinking budgets all around. Still, to have a room full of people, some who provide food, some who provide shelter, some who provide job opportunities, some who provide state services, some who have been beneficiaries of some or all of the above, all committed to tackling these multi-faceted issues, it does my heart worlds of good. It may one day (soon we pray) do the community worlds and worlds of good.

I returned to church, to one such sustainable and empowering ministry (our community meal) already in progress, to take a lunch together with the directors of two other meal programs as we made progress in discussing ways to make our shared structures more efficient, accountable, and legally sound through seeking some sort of joint incorporation, all to ensure that people who need food get it, and maybe the systems by which foods are distributed can become more just and sustainable. Or at least, for the time being, the programs in place and function smoothly, effectively, and in ways that keep the IRS and the Secretary of State happy with us.

I thought about my sermon for a little bit.

I ended the evening with a half-hour finance meeting followed by a two-hour church council meeting (but, as we’re not meeting in July, it is my last until after maternity leave ends in October!). Over the course of these meetings, I witnessed incredible excitement (and only moderate frustration) about the vast number of programs Trinity is doing, and almost frenzied discussion of keeping all of the pieces in place amid the many events on the horizon. And I saw one congregation make a commitment to be gracious, generous, and deeply loving to another, beyond what I’d even hoped or imagined they might do. It literally brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t think it was just hormones.

There are days when ministry is frustrating, draining, pushing-a-rock-up-a-perpetual-mountain exhausting, when I end the day more frustrated and distant from God and my own sense of calling than when I started (yesterday was one of those days!). There are days when I not only fail to do good, but when I question whether I have actually done harm in my broken attempts to be who I am called to be. There are days when I am sure that I should chuck it all and go tend bar somewhere, because I can still lend a listening ear, but the drinks flow more freely and the tips are better, and no one is going to pester me about the color of the hymnals or the fingerprints on the banisters.

But then there are days like today. They are rare, to be sure, but they are special, and one of them can make up for months of the others. I live for days like today, days when I feel like I made a difference, days when I am surprised by grace and joy and the way God works in and through people in ways I didn’t anticipate because maybe it’s not all about me and whether or not I make it happen. These are the days I blog about, to remind me of why I do what I do, to tell you why you might consider doing it (or something like it) too, and to give thanks to the One who does make it happen, through and despite my best efforts.

I’ll sleep well tonight, thanks to some passionate people in Barre, some committed foodies in Montpelier, a congregation excited about its ministry and open to sharing its blessings, and the Spirit that spoke to me through all of them for the past fourteen hours.

Local Press, and Pressing Issues

photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur, Times Argus

I recently attended a meeting in Montpelier that gained some local press attention. A group of team and agency members, local residents, and interested activists gathered to talk about the problem of lack of affordable housing in the Montpelier area, and the large and growing number of persons who are without housing, are marginally housed, or are in significant danger of losing their housing.

I left the meeting feeling more hopeful about addressing the housing problem than I think I ever have. Here was a group of people who had good and realistic ideas and who are willing to work with the programs that are in place and are working, and build new ones to fill the gaps, and willing to engage the problem from a variety of angles. And while most at the meeting write off the idea of Montpelier having its own emergency homeless shelter as unfeasible, they discussed many other ideas that signified their commitment to seeing solutions come to fruition in the long run, and having something in place to keep people from freezing to death by next winter. There was a lot of support for ideas like a day shelter with access to computers, telephones, laundry facilities, counseling, and resource connections possibly even with caseworkers or peer volunteers, and the need for long-term housing, whether in transitional housing, boarding housing, or ideally single-occupancy units at low cost, so that the emergency shelter could truly be used for emergencies.

No committee or team or round table or think tank is perfect, but some are more functional and less frustrating than others. This particular group of people came from a wide range of the Barre-Montpelier community, and represented social service agencies and organizations, program directors, city council members, housing task force members, at least one person who had actually lived without housing (a demographic almost always, tragically, missing from conversations about how to help homeless people– I dunno, you think we should *ask* them what they need?), and at least one representative of the faith community. Some, obviously, wanted more help for the existing programs (particularly those working in them), and others wanted to add new programs. Some wanted to concentrate efforts in Barre, where housing and public property space are less expensive and more available, while others were passionate that Montpelier needed its own separate methods of addressing homelessness and housing shortage. But all were committed to understanding and addressing homelessness as a complex issue involving employment, physical, emotional and psychological needs, mental health status, family status, addiction and coping strategies, and plain old real estate availability, while at the same time recognizing that the surface level problem is phenomenally simple: give people a place to take shelter already. My understanding leaving the meeting was that we agreed to get together again, and also to have a separate group gather just from those within Montpelier to talk about what that city in particular can do.

And, as always, members of Trinity UMC have been passionate about addressing this issue with compassion and with the input of those who are without housing or marginally housed. We’re not interested in any solution that doesn’t actually work for people who are homeless, that doesn’t help people who can be housed obtain and keep safe housing. We’re most certainly not interested in any solution that does not respect and value the persons who are in need of housing, because then justice seeking becomes patronizing and dehumanizing, and the whole point is lost. I’m proud of my church and my town, and hope that we can get enough political will and public activity to begin to find some true solutions and make some sweeping changes.

Here’s the sort of “list” of what’s needed from what I’ve gathered/discussed so far, in a sort of progressive order from band-aid to social justice. Please add or comment with your thoughts!

1. Emergency contingency plans. When the winter temperature drops to deadly levels, a process to open space simply so people don’t freeze to death.

2. Emergency overnight short term shelter for singles and families in a safe environment.

3. Communication and transportation to get people to the shelter/overflow site when they need it.

4. Day programs for people who utilize overnight shelters, for the purposes of having access to resources that might help them attain a more stable and sustainable situation.

5. Longer-term shelter (transitional/boarding housing) for those who are not yet in a sustainable enough place to afford their own housing, but need to stay some place longer than a couple of weeks.

6. Better communication, matching, and utilization of programs like home sharing, that help people be housed middle-term lengths of time.

7. Better communication, volunteerism, and paid staffing of programs (good luck in this economy!) that help people obtain access to assistance and navigate the bureaucracies surrounding housing, food access, utility assistance, recovery programs, and so on.

8. AFFORDABLE, SAFE, AVAILABLE HOUSING. We just don’t have it. Not for seniors. Not for middle-income families. Not for singles. Not for young professionals. So it’s no surprise that we don’t have it for people whose definition of affordable is very low indeed. But this is the problem, and the heart of the solution, and no one I know has enough access to the real estate market to be able to help me understand how we make it better.

9. A more just economy. Someday.

Things that don’t help

For the record, when it comes to massive disasters, it does not help to blame the victims or to insist that this so-called “act of God” (why in the world would we call disasters that?!?) is somehow justified.

I’m disgusted by and feel sorry for individuals whose understandings of God are so limited that they have to twist around other people’s suffering into some sort of divine retribution. Pat Robertson (who claimed that the earthquake and the poverty in Haiti happened because Haitians ‘made a pact with the devil’) and his ilk articulate a kind of faith that to me is so immature and inapplicable that it’s simultaneously pitiable and dangerous. Pitiable because the theories they espouse reflect a brokenness in them and a belief in a nasty monster of a God, and dangerous because sometimes they have microphones and TV cameras and seem to forget the awesome and daunting responsibility that comes with trying to claim to speak the Word of God to any audience, and falling back instead on own our words, our own fears, our own limitations.

Fellow United Methodist blogger Erik Folkerth wrote a very good post on the subject yesterday, and Don Miller of Relevant Magazine offered words of rebuke and compassion as well. Wise folks, who challenge me to be gentle and loving in the face of those who are often anything but.

Prayers and Relief for Haiti

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I’m reminded yet again that natural disasters, while no respecter of persons, fall disproportionally upon the poor. Part of the reason that the quake’s effects were so horrifying was that the buildings were already so poorly put together. Unstable structures, even hospitals, schools, and prisons, unable to withstand smaller tremors in the earth’s crust, stood no chance against the 7.0 magnitude quake. Relief efforts are bogged down, costing precious time and therefore lives, due to already-crumbling infrastructure and lack of resources to get help to the places it is needed.

We can’t stop natural disasters from happening. But perhaps one day we’ll be better at helping all people prepare for them, by assuring that structures are safer and means of communication and transportation are in place. Yes, this will mean that wealthier nations have to help places stripped bare by poverty build safe and effective buildings and roads. Money well spent.

At the same time, I remain proud of my denomination, The United Methodist Church. I was not Methodist growing up, but Catholic. When I went ‘shopping’ for a denomination where I could live out my call to ministry, I chose the UMC intentionally, despite its inevitable faults, because of a few theological principles (prevenient grace, reverence for the Lord’s Supper, sanctification described as a journey toward perfection), and because of the church’s approach to mission. In The United Methodist Church, mission teams are trained to work with people in their native countries without seeking to evangelize or convert anyone to Christianity or Methodism. Although certainly, if someone asks, a volunteer may share why he or she feels moved to help. Volunteers and staff are trained to offer aid in ways that go beyond charity or hand outs, but work side by side with others, empowering individuals and communities to build sustainability. We’d much rather teach people to fish than buy a basket of fish, give cows and chickens rather than donate milk and eggs. We’re in it for the long haul, because we believe that all God’s children deserve the opportunity and ability to live free and joy-filled lived, with food, clothing, shelter, and sanitation.

For this reason, The United Methodist Church has been connected with the nation of Haiti for many years, with many churches and conferences sending teams down on mission trips to build and sustain communities alongside their Haitian hosts. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) established a field office in Haiti half a dozen years ago, and has been working on the ground in that country for quite some time. At the time of the quake, six North American United Methodist volunteer teams were in Haiti, and reports from them and from the staff and volunteers at UMCOR were slow to trickle in. These folks were and are on the front lines, some of them relief workers now, some of them missing or recently rescued themselves. Their courage is astounding, and my heart and my prayers go out to them.

And that’s not all. Because local United Methodist congregations pay apportionments or mission shares (a kind of proportional financial commitment to their larger regional organization and the global church), all of the administrative costs for UMCOR and other relief efforts are paid for by the people of The United Methodist Church. This means that when a disaster like this happens, and people donate money through the UMC or UMCOR, 100% of that money goes directly to relief efforts on the ground. No administrative costs, no salaries for the people organizing the work. All of the money can go to supplies and distribution, getting personnel and resources to where they need to be quickly and effectively, through the global network of Methodists and the people already in place in Haiti. I am not aware of many other organizations that can say that– organizations well connected and already in place, that can give 100 pennies from every dollar to the stated need.

If you want to make a financial gift to the relief efforts following the Haiti disaster, you can give online through the United Methodist Committee on Relief and know that 100% of your contribution will go to the designated relief effort. You can also make a donation by check through any local United Methodist Church (find one near you) and designate Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325 on your check or envelope. Also ask at your local church if they will be collecting health kits, inexpensive hands-on ways to gather and ship basic supplies to Haiti. You can learn about other ways The United Methodist Church is helping out online at

This is what my church does best: show our belief in God and in the beauty of humanity by living in love and service with those in greatest need. There’s much we don’t get right a lot of the time– we are a human organization, but when it comes to the selfless love of others and fearless help for those in need, I’m proud to be part of a body so generous, fearless, and loving.

Sermon: Tidings for the Downtrodden

“Tidings for the Downtrodden”

(December 20, 2009) On Christmas we don’t celebrate only how Jesus was born, but who he was and is, and for that we can get no better source than his own mother. In the passage known as the Magnificat, Mary describe what Jesus means to her, an unwed peasant girl: salvation, deliverance, and good news for the poor and the lowly. If we are to celebrate Jesus, then, we must hear his coming as a call to action for us, to bring good news to the most poor and needy in our communities and in our world. I suggest that for our community in Central Vermont, this might be the time for a call to action around housing and shelter for those who are without such, but challenge you to find the greatest need wherever you are, that Christmas might truly come for everyone alive. (Luke 1:46-55)

That Old Time Religion Ain’t Conservative Enough

So my friends lists on Facebook, and on my blogroll, and even on my television (good Lord, do I love Rachel Maddow) are all talking about the same thing this week.

The Conservative Bible Project.

Like Rachel Maddow, like many of my friends when we first emailed this around, I was convinced this had to be satire. Surely The Onion was pointing out the foolishness of over-reliance on Biblical translations by creating a silly story about people so committed to the causes of conservatism– including Biblical literalism– that they would re-write the Bible to make it easier for them to take it literally. A joke, right?

Right? please?


So you’ve probably heard this one by now, but there’s this group on the conservative wiki “Conservapedia” who want to create a ‘translation’ of the bible devoid of liberal bias, which, according to them includes “three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.”

Instead, they want a Bible that obeys these guidelines:

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

I’ve never found Hell to be particularly logical. In fact, I’ve never really found there to be a strong case for it in the Bible, but I’ve been reading those liberal Bibles that leave things in their original language where possible, so I read more about Sheol and Gehenna than Hell. Oh well.

I don’t even understand point 9. They want a bible that credits the openmindedness of the author of the fourth gospel, who, 70 years after Jesus’ death, wrote “No one comes to the Father but by me”? I can’t speak to this point.

And 10 just makes me laugh. Yes, silly liberal wordiness; why keep single words in their original language like “Yahweh,” when you can use two words loaded with historical, gendered, medieval baggage like “The Lord”?

But strangely, the one I have the biggest problem with is #7. Maybe this isn’t strange; I did just watch Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which I highly recommend, and about which I hope to post soon. In any case, I can’t even begin to get my mind around how much you have to misread the Bible to think that a good translation would be committed to “explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning.”

Yes, yes, I remember. The Israelite concept of Jubilee– you know, bailouts for the wealthy, but forget that bit about letting all the slaves go free and forgiving individuals’ debts. The Deuteronomic Law insisting that in the land which God provides, the people must care for the widows and orphans and strangers (actually, aliens– don’t know if we mean illegal immigrants there or people from other planets…)– that’s the one part of Deuteronomy we should ignore (but keep the part about sexual practices, because nothing in human sexuality has changed in 4000 years). Most of the prophet Micah’s work, because in fact, God requires that you seek punitive justice, love kindness as an abstract concept, and walk along arrogantly proclaiming that you are in accordance with God, who, now that ‘He’ thinks of it, could care less about mercy and does require a big, honking CEO bonus of a sacrifice.

Then there’s that ridiculous Socialist society of the early church, holding all things in common, by which we should really understand that they took things from other people to accumulate their own wealth, which they held in common until the strongest among them developed a corporate buyout scheme, leaving the rest of the fledgling church members paupers.

And that Jesus guy. I must have totally misunderstood! He didn’t really mean blessed are the poor, but thank God for the poor because without their class to oppress, the rich couldn’t be rich. And he was being sarcastic when he said that it a rich man should sell everything and give it to the needy; no, he should sell everything at the best price he can get for it, gouging other retailers so they go out of business, and making the poor dependent on his goods so they can’t sustain their lifestyles. God’s kin-dom is like a foreman who hires workers for a day, and pays them all the same amount regardless of the hours worked, because the foreman is trying to break the back of the Union so tomorrow he can fire all those workers and hire new ones for much less money. Whoever holds on to their life is bound to accumulate more and more of it, and whoever looses their life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel is a right fool who deserves to fall on hard times and no one is going to give them a free ride.

Again, you have to seriously, painfully misread the Bible and misunderstand what faith is and what it means to be faithful to think that this is a idea that merits anything other than scorn.

I have, like, the best job ever.

I really do enjoy my job.

It amazes me sometimes. Sure, it’s difficult, and draining and chellenging some days. Sure, there are times when it seems like many of my days are filled with finding (and losing) paperwork, looking for prayers to go with a particular theme, and attending marathon meetings. But around that stuff, between the forms and the bulletin-making, there are the times when I dream and vision and imagine and strategize and listen and get excited and strategize some more. There are the times when I hear someone talk about an idea for a ministry or an outreach or a worship component, and their eyes positively light up. Then there are the times when I help that person work toward that idea, and I see on their face the joy and satisfaction of getting to do what they love. And I know it’s mirrored on mine.

I wrote a little earlier that I felt like I was ready to kick things into high gear and start in on some projects. This is what excites me most about ministry– the opportnity to listen to and with people for what God might be calling us to, and then together create something new that helps bring the blessing, joy, and love of God to another little corner of the world.

The current big project is the Trinity Community Thrift Store, a dream that came from Paul, a member of Trinity in Montpelier. Paul imagined that we might stop putting on 4-5 thrift sales a year as fundaisers for the church, and start offering a year-round thrift store as a more premanent source of inexpensive, quality clothing and household items in the downtowm Montpelier area. This is the best kind of project; it’s Paul’s dream, so he feels fulfilled and inspired about it, it helps the church in some ways financially and in terms of public relations, it helps people around the world because 10% of the income of the store will be given to a mission project outside of Trinity, and it helps the immediate community because there is a great need for an inexpensive shop in the town, so that folks can buy the things they need without using up all the money they have on hand for the week. I’m honored to be a part of making this happen, and to see and hear the buzz of excitement as this new thing unfolds.

And that’s just one new thing I see us doing together right now. There are a lot more ideas and there’s a lot more energy!

What about you? What exciting things are you doing in your church or would you like to do? What exciting things do you do with your work or your volunteer time? What makes (or would make) you say you have the best job ever?

Day Off

Mondays are my sabbath days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a day of rest. Sometimes, what really rejuvenates me is getting to do projects I love or to dream about ministry (and maybe even do a little of it, which I don’t consider cheating) without being ‘on the clock.’

So for example, today, on my day off, I:

  • took out the garbage. Okay, it doesn’t sound exciting, but it’s very purging.
  • did some weeding in the vegetable garden and put down some landscape fabric to keep the weeds down in the future. Again, it may not sound like rest, but I was out in nature, getting some (rare) sun, and had a great feeling of achievement.
  • had an impromptu video conference to discuss ideas about a program to help agencies and their resources better interface with people without housing or on the brink of being without housing. A passion of mine, and a discussion made possible by the wonders of internet technology.
  • talked with another group at church about rearranging some space use for a new project, yet to be unveiled. That might sound like work, but it was so uplifting!
  • called the congregant whose dream is the aforementioned new project, and asked him to come in tomorrow and begin the process of making it a reality. I didn’t see his face (no video conference, sadly), but even the sound of his voice was enough to know that moments like that are why I went into ministry.
  • managed to utterly confuse myself with my bills and checkbook, but sort it all out in the end, which again, is such a feeling of accomplishment (and relief!)
  • thought a little more about the ideas I’ve been having for sermons the next two weeks (I’m never that far ahead!) and for a series in September.
  • ran a mile and a quarter.

Now that’s a day that gets me feeling refreshed, revved up, and ready for the week ahead!

Of Tea and Taxes

We interrupt this church-themed blog for a post regarding the most state-ish of all matters: taxation.

I’ve heard a lot the past couple of days about wealthy people who think that they are being taxed without being represented. Apparently, the fact that the wealthiest 10% of the population are represented by less than a majority of Congress is a problem. To me, it’s democracy. And so to protest, they recommend sending the President bags of tea or throwing tea into bodies of water. To me, that’s littering, not to mention the waste of perfectly good tea.

And then I’ve heard from people who describe themselves as anti-tax. This astounds me.

I have concluded that those who are self-professed “anti-tax” are individuals who:

– have no children. If they did, they’d care about how public education was funded. Also, they themselves are not recipients of public education. At the very least, I assume they never took a class in Civics.

– have no elderly parents or grandparents. If they did, they’d care how Medicare was funded. They plan to die young enough and/or healthy enough not to need any assistance.

– are in fact, the picture of perfect health, and so do not care about how medical research is funded.

– have their own home security system, and so do not care about how law enforcement or criminal justice are funded.

– do not use electricity, fire, or other combustibles, and so do not care about how fire departments are funded.

– do not own or operate vehicles, and so do not care about how highway maintenance is funded.

– are in possession of a personal arsenal, and so do not care about funding the security of our nation or it interests (it should be noted that I am largely opposed to my tax dollars supporting a bloated defense budget, but, as we have men and women engaged in battle, I think I should help fund whatever efforts we can to keep them safe, rather than calculating out the portion of my taxes that go to military spending and refusing to pay).

– do not know a single person living near or below poverty line. At. All.

I therefore presume that the majority of anti-tax folks are the only members of their families, and live alone in self-sustaining underground bunkers.

Me, I’ll pay my taxes, because by doing so I help my fellow citizens and together we pay for services I need and could never afford on my own. And I’ll keep my tea where it belongs, in a cup in my middle-class-home kitchen, thanks.

Yeah, most of that is a little tongue-in-cheek. But I challenge one, just *one*, anti-tax or even anti-progressive-tax adherent to explain to me how their position isn’t a horribly callous, short-sighted, and incompassionate one. Should that happen, I may drop a bit of my sarcasm, and may also be chivalrous enough to recommend that they vet their slogans for innuendo before publicizing them.

What I’d have said

I was invited to speak at the dinner tonight at my church for the Central Vermont Community Land Trust. Unfortunately, I have had a minor medical problem (some follow-up stuff from my miscarriage that necessitated a trip to the hospital, but I’m out and home and fine now) and have been confined to my house for the remainder of the day.

But here’s what I wanted to highlight in my comments this evening, and what I hope to convey to the CVCLT and other who work with issues of poverty and housing particularly.

First, there are a bunch of people who work on issues of poverty and housing. We need to find ways to utilize one another’s skills and areas of influence. The faith community can and should be a tremendous resource (more than we are currently being utilized) for these efforts.

Second, when it comes to organization, we need to do a much better job helping people into and through the process of receiving assistance and moving toward sustainability. Too many people fall through the cracks or come to an entry point (like me!) who is under-informed about how to get them the services they need.

Third, the voices that we need to hear about this are the voices of folks who live without housing or on the verge of homelessness or inability to pay for rent/utilities. They know the ins and outs of the problem and they have ideas about what they might need. Ask those folks if we should have a homeless shelter in Montpelier. Ask those folks where affordable housing should be established and what type of units are needed. My suggestion (which I’m working on with the church eventually) is to have a dinner, monthly, that’s free to the public, where those who struggle with affording housing engage middle class folk, non-profit workers, and government/political folks in conversation about their goals and ideas about housing.