Over the course of this year, the Future of Our Block Steering Committee has been engaged in a learning process, pursuing conversations with our neighbors about where they’ve been and where they’re going so that we might better understand our place in the city and the neighborhood that is taking shape around us. In our first two sessions, we discussed what we’ve learned from our neighbors at Norfolk Southern, community partners at Midtown Alliance and MARTA, and our institutional neighbors at Georgia Tech and Emory University Hospital Midtown.
During the summer and fall, we sought out and engaged in conversation with service agencies, both faith-based and secular, based in Midtown and further afield around Atlanta.
Learning from Service Agencies
Over the past five months, committee members have engaged in conversation with the leaders of 40 service agencies, about 25% of which are faith-based, that provide education, advocacy, healthcare, housing, food, shelter, job training, and more. We connected with many of these organizations based on their existing relationships with our four core ministries, Covenant Community, Threads, Refugee Ministries, and Midtown Assistance Center.
From these conversations, we learned about all of the incredible work that happens around us, at all hours of the day and night, to serve vulnerable populations, including children, refugees, and people experiencing a wide variety of crises from homelessness and food insecurity to illness, violence, and more.
We asked the leaders of these organizations two key questions to find out more about the scope of their work today and their vision for the future:
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What do you perceive to be the unmet needs of the communities you serve?
From their answers, we learned more about their greatest needs and most prevalent concerns for the future and saw some common themes emerge:
- The need for more stable, affordable housing
- Greater access to tutoring and after school/ summer school programs for children
- More job opportunities for people in transition
- Greater resources to support mental health and long-term recovery from addiction and illness
- Wider access to transportation to bridge the gaps that MARTA doesn’t reach
- More collaboration among non-profits and the space to do so
It is clear from all that we learned about organizations that seek to meet the needs of those around us that Midtown is home to vibrant and life-changing work among our city’s most vulnerable and in need populations, as well as a center of rapid commercial, residential, and institutional growth.
During our final learning together session, on November 24, we will share all that we have learned from other churches who have also engaged in the creative process of imagining the future and legacy of their own properties. During that session, we’ll share stories ranging from the bucolic countryside of North Carolina to the bustling streets of Manhattan. There is a lot of exciting work happening across The Episcopal Church and beyond, all of which is inspiring for our own place and time.
2020 will be a year in the life of All Saints’ when we will invite everyone to dream together for the future of our block. We will want to hear your voice, and we will want to hear the views and insights of our local community. There is a great deal to look forward to in that work of discernment and discovery, more details of which will be shared at our final learning together session in November.