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Systemic change – Indianapolis experiment

by | Feb 9, 2011 | Vincentian Family

Could systemic change work in Indianapolis? This was the question Len Murray asked after he finished reading Seeds of Hope. “The list of successes is a strong testimony.  One element that kept reoccurring in my mind was that the organization worked within a well defined area, most often a village. Where are the villages of Indianapolis?  The area that occurred to me was the apartment complex.”

Download his full reflection in Word format

Reflections:

  • Have you ever wondered whether systemic change could work in your neighborhood?
  • Could Len Murray’s  insight about apartment houses as villages help in rethinking your neighborhood?
  • One of Vincent’s insights was to involve all kinds of people. Do we as a family try to do everything ourselves?

Len Murray

When Nativity parish received their copy of Seeds of Hope, I started reading it that very night. I also finished it that evening.  It was very moving, reading success after success in so many different places and circumstances.  Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, Mozambique, London, Dublin, and the Philippines having one thing in common: success in alleviating the suffering of the poor through systemic change.  As Blessed Frederic said, “Not just treating the wound, but identifying and stopping the instrument that caused the wound.”

The book assured me that this could work in Indiana. How?  One of the basic principles of the method is that it could be replicated again and again irrespective of place. The list of successes is a strong testimony.  One element that kept reoccurring in my mind was that the organization worked within a well defined area, most often a village. Where are the villages of Indianapolis?  The area that occurred to me was the apartment complex. Here we find a village of 100-200 families in similar circumstances.  The village I found in our area was the Stratford Place apartments.  It is composed of section 8 housing and our group had worked with two or three families in the recent past.  I met with the management of the complex and gave them a thumbnail sketch of the idea.  They were receptive and we decided to introduce ourselves to the residents through a summer breakfast program.  With the aid of the St. Jude SVDP, we provided breakfast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of July.  We served about 25 children and adults each day.  The staff and residents had a positive response to the program.

The next step was taken by the staff.  They were inspired to have a back-to-school cookout.  They have a new manager. She wanted to introduce herself in an informal way and show the residents that she was interested in a program that would enrich the lives of the families living there.

The mission of SVDP would be presented as a cooperative effort enlisting the families of the village. The residents would identify needs and join in the effort to determine how to solve those needs in a community effort.

This is a story to be continued.  We have barely scratched the surface, but all responses have been positive.  If this project is to bear fruit, we will need many hands and hearts.  I invite members of the SVDP family, especially on the south side, to join us in the plowing, planting, and cultivating the seeds of hope.  Everyone willing to participate in any phase of the project should contact me through my email: len2jerusalem@sbcglobal.net .  Please title your email: “seeds of hope”.

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