G-Dog Barks in Indy
Fact of the Month
Nearly half of Marion County households can be classified as “in poverty” or “ALICE” (asset-limited, income-constrained and employed) households.
Source: 2018 Indiana ALICE® Report, Indiana United Ways
It’s not often that Jesuit priests are treated like rock stars, that they have rapper-like nicknames, speak to sold-out audiences or become darlings of the talk-show circuit. But not many Jesuit priests are like Father Greg Boyle.
You might recall that we’ve recommended a couple of Fr. Boyle’s books in our “Worth Reading” section of this newsletter. Those books (Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir) are filled with stories of transformation sparked by Boyle’s simple refusal to reject people who are so often rejected by society. I and others involved in the Faith & Action Project have found these books to be inspiring examples of the power of coordinated and focused compassion.
Now I’m delighted to do more than recommend Boyle’s books. I invite you to attend our spring conference and hear firsthand the stories of the man known by the community he serves as “G-Dog.” We’re certain you, too, will be inspired, and we’re confident that we all can learn lessons that can be applied to our fight against poverty.
No doubt, we’ll hear how, in 1992, Boyle created Homeboy Industries to create employment opportunities for gang members (one of his mottos is, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job”). We’ll certainly hear some of the surprising (and often funny) stories he tells about his daily work with the Homeboy family, and how that family helped build Homeboy Industries into a $16.6 million program with a bakery, catering service, silk screening operation and more.
Watch future issues of the newsletter for dates and registration information for the spring conference. Until then, I encourage you to learn about Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries, and to read one or both of his books. I am confident that, if our community can capture even a little of Boyle’s passion for service, we can transform lives in Indy the way he has in LA.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
Tales of Two Cities
Recent studies have revealed truths about neighborhoods that are both unsettling and encouraging: In many cities, the fortunes of people who live in demographically similar neighborhoods nearby can be remarkably different. A child living in one LA neighborhood, for example, might seem poised for stability and prosperity, while a child in another neighborhood just blocks away might have few opportunities. How can such a trend be encouraging? By offering a glimpse of a possible solution: equipping neighborhoods to shape their own futures. David Brooks ponders this possibility in a recent New York Times column.
Grantees in the News
In the fall of 2017, a handful of people on a construction site near Eastern Star Church shoved shiny silver shovels into a grassy yard to ceremonially break ground on the ROCK Initiative. A little over a year later, the tufts of grass they turned over have yielded to a community development project that is attracting citywide attention. Funded in part by a Faith & Action Grant, the ROCK Initiative (which includes a partnership Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and RecycleForce) is transforming the neighborhood outside Eastern Star Church’s walls. Learn more by reading this article published recently as part of IBJ’s One City Worlds Apart series.
Winner Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas. Former New York Times columnist Giridharadas takes on the very forces that claim to be making the world a better place in this book that examines philanthropy, capitalism and inequality. The author lays bare his premise in the opening sentences: “All around us in America is the clank-clank-clank of the new — in our companies and economy, our neighborhoods and schools, our technologies and social fabric. But these novelties have failed to translate into broadly shared progress and the betterment of our overall civilization.”
Mark your calendar for these important dates.
March: (exact date TBD): 2019 Faith & Action Grant information and application available.
May 2: Faith & Action Project Spring Conference, featuring Father Gregory Boyle.
March 8: Faith & Action Grant letters of intent due.