by Sarah Dull
Lately, I have been meditating on Psalm 126. It opens, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” I wonder, what does it look like to live as those who dream?
I am reminded of economic dreamer Herman Daly and the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. Daly, and other eminent economists and scientists, campaign for a stable economy that does not grow beyond its ecological limits. In 2015 Daly wrote, “Many people think that advocating a steady-state economy is like wishing for a miracle.”
Supporters of the Steady State Economy, while abhorring the ravages of COVID-19, are eagerly watching the ensuing economic slow down and the potential benefits to our environment and way of life. In March, Brian Czech wrote,
The silver lining—a reprieve from the ravages of runaway GDP—has been sewn into the environmental and social fabric of 2020. We’d be wise to value and keep it, not rip it out and sell it as soon as we get the chance. With a newly developed appreciation of economic moderation, we can move more intentionally toward a post-growth, steady state economy that fits on the planet.
I wonder, is this what reaping with shouts of joy after sowing in tears looks like?
Filmmaker and author, Astra Taylor, shares her political dreams, “America’s response to coronavirus pandemic has revealed a simple truth: So many policies that our elected officials have long told us were impossible and impractical were eminently possible and practical all along.” She points out, in 2011 Occupy Wall Street activists were laughed at for demanding debt cancellation for student loans. Yet, in March, the President put a freeze on interest for federal student loans and Andrew Cuomo has paused all medical and student debt owed to New York State. Taylor continues,
All along, evictions were avoidable; the homeless could’ve been housed and sheltered in government buildings; water and electricity didn’t need to be turned off for people behind on their bills; paid sick leave could‘ve been a right for all workers; paying your mortgage late didn’t need to lead to foreclosure; and debtors could’ve been granted relief…. This is an unprecedented opportunity to not just hit the pause button and temporarily ease the pain, but to permanently change the rules so that untold millions of people aren’t so vulnerable to begin with.
I wonder, is this what shouts of joy from those who went out weeping sound like?
There are also dreamers closer to home. My friend Brian lives in the Corridor Flats, less than half a mile from the 3rd Precinct on Lake Street. He and his neighbors were evacuated during the riots. Fortunately, their condos were undamaged but they returned to find their beloved neighborhood devastated.
Brian told me, “We feel this is our community, we want it to be healthy again as soon as possible. We are aware of the diversity in our neighborhood and want to engage the community in a different way.” So, they clubbed together, invited friends and family to join them, and raised funds to bring a food truck to East Lake Street. Their vision was to offer a “pay what you can” opportunity for local residents who may be struggling to find food and help start rebuilding their community. This was co-organizer Norah’s after-event post:
Thank you to everyone who came to and donated to our Urban Sub food truck day! We enjoyed almost 150 sandwiches, tons of cold water, and loads of really good conversation between communities as far away as Darin and his family who were here from Cincinnati peacefully protesting with BLM this week. He ate one sandwich and loved it so much he brought the rest of the family back!! I spoke with Asha from North who doesn’t have a tv and had bused down to shop at her favorite Cub Foods store on Minnehaha Ave, only to discover it was gone. She’d never eaten food outside like this and loved her meal! Many, many people showed up from the neighborhood, as well as folks coming over from St. Paul, Brooklyn Park, and other metro areas to survey damage to the neighborhood which, I often learned, was where they had grown up or lived for decades. Tears, disbelief, but also great joy and comfort breaking warm bread together on a warm day with warm hearts ready for community.
They have now hosted 4 of these events, allowing those of us who are able to invest our gifts in helping local restaurants rebuild their businesses, feed our neighbors, and create beloved community.
Brian is thrilled with the response, “We are interacting and talking with people we never would before. We are speaking with people who may not have had a hot meal today, may be homeless, may not have spoken to anyone else for days. We are learning about our community and building partnerships.” One promising partnership is with the YWCA across the street from Brian’s building, together they are hoping to establish a weekly food truck through the summer. The food truck initiative has grown alongside other community projects such as Paint Our Peace.
I wonder, is this how we embody and bring forth God’s dreams? Is this how we realize our dreams of a better world when our current one is disturbing and confusing? Is this what restoration looks and feels like?
This Finance First Friday I invite you to reflect on your socio-economic dreams for God’s world, our hurting nation, and for you and your community. What would it look like to live those dreams? What would you need to let go of? What fears would you need to face? What would you need to learn? And what fortunes could be restored?
Finance First Fridays is a pastoral initiative here at St. John’s. Discussing finances can be difficult, however, money is a real factor in all of our lives and an important topic to address. If you have a personal story you’d like to tell or financial resources you’d like to share, please contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull – you never know who needs to hear your story.