This Incredible Year in Turley
Hi and thanks to all for your interest and presence with us this past year. We just finished hosting another wonderful group from Leadership Tulsa today on a tour of the northside, so much to say and talk about in so short a time, and so I come away wishing that everyone could walk with us through the year, the ups and downs, the detours and deadends and surprising openings that mark our journey each year. This letter might fall in the category of Things I Kept Thinking About....I hope you will also read it and consider ways to give to us at the end of the year after you hear about what a year it has been in so many different ways.
2011 has been a phenomenal year when things kept getting worse, and things kept getting better, side by side. It has been a year in this regard unlike any before in our own history here, and perhaps in our community's.
We began the year by purchasing the abandoned church building that had been a central fixture for years in this community but had been foreclosed and empty for years, a symbol of so many vacant and abandoned and rundown structures here. We were able to buy it thanks to equity we had from a few months before, with your help, buying the city block of abandoned homes where we have put in our still emerging and blossoming KitchenGardenPark and Orchard on North Johnstown Ave. Along with a grant from the Zarrow Foundation, we were able to buy this old building and start reusing it even before renovating it. Thanks to a grant from the Flint Family Foundation we have been able to settle in to the building better and keep up our outreach and services and grow them.
At the same time we also got the report that the former Turley School, now Cherokee School, was scheduled to be closed; we worked on getting information out to residents, and coming up with alternatives, but the school was closed, and the communities suffer from not having a major place like school where community and residents can intersect. And we are likely to see more schools closing, possibly with charter schools placed as possible alternatives in Greeley but not Cherokee, which is better than having it closed too like Cherokee was, but we still have the major building in the heart of the community at Cherokee being vacant. We are working with OU and others to try to dream up possible new community friendly uses. Our children go to an increasingly different number of schools so far away from our community these days that this continues to be a difficulty in making the connections for community here where there are so few avenues available to do that.
I wish I had been able to tell all this to the Leadership Tulsa guests today. I would have told them better what a remarkable gift it is to be able to live here with those who are struggling but still find ways to give of their strengths and spirit, of the new dreams many have, how just staying here and alive and dreaming is a sign that another world is possible; last night several of us in the community watched the movie Joyeux Noel about how peace broke out and friendships were made and worlds changed on the battlefields of France during World War One on Christmas Eve; they paid a price for creating, for a moment, that different world, but it was one that changed their lives forever, and can still today for us. I should have mentioned more to the group about the growing possibilities and community involvement with the Vann Green Park Industrial Area here, along with our unique setting of hill and bottomland so close to downtown. And I should have said more about how issues of racial justice, reconciliation, ethnic diversity, both still challenge us, and are a blessing to us here as we find ways to deepen our lives together across barriers; living next to one another, serving together with one another, linking and empowering the poor regardless of ethnicity, is all an opportunity we get to have that others may want to do but have to go out of their way to do. More on that as we move toward our participation again with the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations.
And if you are still here with me at this point, let me ask you to help us enter 2012 on an amazing, surprising, gifted note. We need your End of the Year tax deductible contribution. You can make it easily and safely online at www.turleyok.blogspot.com, or can mail a check to A Third Place Community Foundation at The Welcome Table Center, 5920 N. Owasso Ave., Turley. OK 74126. Everyone of the things I have written about above will still be projects, are still in need of support; including things I didn't mention like how we are a warming station now as we were a cooling station this summer, how we are still building up our free internet center for those here without, how we need more money for our food pantry purchases, for our gardenpark, for new signs to let the world know what we have going on, for the transformation of our remaining building into a community room, for new shelves for the clothing room, for bathroom renovations, for some part time staff to keep the center open and growing a few more hours a day, and for a new website presence. These are all the "uncool" things that make possible the transformational things mentioned above.
Posted by Ron at 7:09 PM