Choosing to Dream Big

At Embrace we talk a lot about being dream releasers, inspiring our neighbors to imagine what their neighborhood can be; to see beyond the current, often dismal, reality to a new future that we can make together. Last week at our prayer time one of our neighborhood leaders, Richard, showed up with a four foot long roll of paper covered in sharpie titled “I can see . . “. As you can see in the picture, Richard dreams big. He dreams that we can make Brookland Park pedestrian friendly, with rental bicycles, golf carts and even rickshaws to move people up and down the street. He sees a place where the neighborhood can learn about sustainable energy and have an “Apollo of Achievement” to teach kids about robotics, chess and debate. He dreams of a shelter for girls, a place for senior adults to connect to each other, and stores from national retail chains. I love Richard’s vision because he chooses to dream big and ignore cynics who only imagine more of the same. It’s too easy to look at the Brookland Park corridor and see the empty barber shops, abandoned buildings and closed stores and imagine that it always has been, and always will be, this way. The cynics ignore the astounding potential and entrepreneurial spirit of Brookland Park’s people. We have neighbors who look at a store front and see a bustling restaurant or stand in front of the abandoned theater and imagine an arts center. Our neighbors look at a dilapidated house and see a tool to teach job skills. They are able to see beyond...

The Importance of Smiling and Nodding

Every Thursday at 12:00 I walk up and down Brookland Park inviting people to prayer. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the week. I like the feeling of being near our neighbors and doing something that lets them know we care. My last stop before prayer is always Carl’s Barber Shop (all these names are changed.) I save Carl’s for last because I know that Carl will give me a thirty minute sermon complete with alter call. Carl’s sermons are well crafted, but deeply confusing. Dissertations on the correct spelling, importance and pronunciation of God’s name are followed by moments of poetry all conglomerating in, to my ears, a confusing ball of verbal gloop. After 30 minutes of nodding and smiling I make my excuses, vow to see him again next week and walk across the street with my head spinning. Last week I walked into Carl’s only to find we weren’t alone. A well dressed man in a little bow tie was handing out newspapers to everyone in the shop. I smiled and nodded at the man and asked Carl if he had anything we could pray for this week. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I was in trouble. Mr. Bow Tie began a theological discussion on the nature of the trinity, the truth of the Koran and the importance of overthrowing the man. Carl followed up with a short teaching on one of his favorite topics, the importance of the correct name of God. I was in the middle of the two men smiling and looking back and forth from Carl...

Voices of the Belfield Project

Embrace Richmond is supporting the efforts of the IMANI CDC’s training initiative known as Belfield Project.  The purpose of the project is to train youth  in fundamental skills and develop strong work ethics by engaging youth and young adults in the renovation of an abandoned property located at 3004 Hanes Avenue right off Brookland Park Boulevard. The Belfield Project is the first beautification effort being supported by Embrace Richmond along Brookland Park Boulevard and we are thankful to the church partners who have joined us in this initiative and to IMANI for allowing us to join them in their mission.   Our goal of this collaborative effort  is to help young people transform their neighborhood, learn valuable skills and build relationships. The most important element of the project are the people. Watch this video to see just a few of the people working to make Brookland Park look fantastic.     We are thankful to Brandermill Church, Salisbury Presbyterian Church, Northminster Church, Trinity United Methodist Church and Hope Church for their support of this project....

Hillside MLK Celebration

Monday we joined our friends from Hillside court and Brandermill Church to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day together. We shared fantastic food put together by the Hillside Cooking Team, watched the Southside Superstars cheer, and listened to a dramatic reading of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech. It was a fantastic to join together and celebrate the great stuff going on in Hillside and the life of Dr....