5. Relocation to the abandoned places
Relocating without gentrifying
By: Vonetta Storbakken
In August 2006, before having ever heard the term “new monasticism,” my husband, Jason, and I founded Radical Living, an intentional community in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. When I (Vonetta) was 12 years old, I emigrated from Guyana to Bed-Stuy, one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in New York City. I witnessed firsthand urban decay — and renewal — as well as the devastating effects of the crack epidemic. Some of our neighbors, many of whom I have known since I was young, have been afflicted by drug addiction and poverty. They are not merely the nameless, faceless people you might read about or pass on the street; they are living souls made in the image of God. When a person applies for membership at Radical Living we explain that we want to live in community with people who desire to invest in the lives of their neighbors, regardless of their position in society. We are not interested in living with “tourists” who want to “experience the ghetto.” My husband and I are an interracial couple with a young daughter and son, and it is important to us that our community, regardless of the predominant culture around us, is centered in Jesus and reflective of the diversity of the kingdom of God. Although our community — 25 people who live in several houses around one block — is blessed with diversity, we have a lot of work to do with regard to racial reconciliation. There are African Americans, Asians, immigrants, and first-generation Americans, and more than half our community are white folks. Although not as representative of our neighborhood as we could be, the rainbow of voices in our community allows for regularl discussion of the role of underrepresented populations in the New Monastic movement, as well as the (often harmful) impact of members of the dominant society entering communities of color with the intent of “helping.” It is also due to these voices that we know how much work we have to do.
Below is a list of potential key topics/ideas we hope to comprehensively cover via stories from practitioners here on Community Cookbook.
- Shared ownership
- Power and property
- Relocating without gentrifying