Our God is a God of Creation. Our God is a God of Renewal.
We are to be about Creating. We are to be about Renewal.
Imagine a place. A place in this city that is dedicated to the beautification and renewal of the city and its people. A place that gives and nurtures through art, music, dance, writing and the planting of gardens. Imagine the church returning to its patronage days. Days when it saw value in caring for its talented artisans and encouraged them to shape culture in the church's image and not the converse.
I have had such a returning vision for some time now and I would like to broadcast it because it is not mine. I share this openly with a hope. That this will fall on some hearts who have just the resources, gifts and means to bring it to fruition for the sake of God and his Kingdom. Many have given the advice not to do this, that I should hide the idea for fear of it being "taken" and completed by someone else. I say to this warning, if it is for the Kingdom and in the spirit of our Resurrected Jesus then let it come to pass by any means necessary. This vision has just been lent to me for my stewarding - I do not own it.
The vision goes something like this: Whitehall Street is an industrial area near downtown Atlanta that has fallen into disrepair and despair in our midst. Take some of this land and break the ground allowing light and water to penetrate the soil.
Phase 1: We get some of our most talented gardners and landscape designers and we put them to the task of planting a public garden. The garden must be self sustaining and therefore independent on irrigation from outside sources, like public water. Rain harvesting may be utilized but only simple methods allowed. Hardscapes will be incorporated into the design and part of the hardscape will be a public amphitheater.
Phase 2: We begin hosting events in the garden from the amphitheater. Harvest festivals. Health days for the homeless. Public free lectures and concerts. Performing arts events. Etc. The events and garden would be fiscally sustained by donations and ecumenically sponsored. The center could be supported by the city, state and federal government grants as well. So by this point there is a place and now you have added assembly and the exchange of idea to that place. People who attend these public events give what they can to the mission of the center.
Phase 3: We build or retrofit studio space, a gallery, and sanctuary at this place. Artists will occupy the spaces for periods of time, create, as well as give to the community in teaching, sharing and contributing to the center's beauty. Artists of all disciplines would propose a residency and a panel of artists would select who can come and reside and create.
Phase 4: We build or retrofit retreat space, counseling offices, and common areas for city residents to come for mental and spiritual healing, for rest and sabbath within the city. Imagine coming and retreating in simple monastic quarters where there are no distractions. There is only a bed, a small desk, a rug and a chair. Your purpose for dwelling in these rooms is to be restored and be contemplative in a city built for hurry and worry. Agencies, therapists, and counselors who meet with people on a regular basis may operate out of these spaces caring for those in Atlanta.
It will be called the Center for Art & Urban Renewal.
If you have any direction, leads, recommendations, thoughts, banter, etc. I would love it. Please share it by emailing me. You may get my email address by clicking on contributors, Jeff Guy.
May our Lord Jesus Christ guide us as we work toward this future.