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Community Candlelighting Christmas Eve Service in our new building 11 pm all welcome

We have purchased our new building we will be moving into and relaunching in a new transformed way to better serve more people in our area. The new place is at 5920 N. Owasso Ave. just behind the Turley Tag Agency. It was built in 1920 as the Turley Community Methodist Episcopal Church, then became the Witt Memorial Indian Methodist Church in the 1960s, then became Zion Baptist Church and child care and Joyful Time Ministries, then has been abandoned for a few years. We are beginning the long hard work of fixing and remodelling, and will be moving in beginning next month though we will have most of our services shut down for the transition and the new relaunch. Thanks for your patience. More news on that coming in the new year.

Come celebrate with a community candlelighting communion service in the space that has been cleaned but is still showing signs of vandalism. Christmas Eve at 11 pm come join us in celebration and bringing in Christmas morning in a deeply spiritual way.

For more on the service go to

Get Ready for the Launch of The Welcome Table Center, tied in with our other recent project The Welcome Table Garden Kitchen Park on 60th and N. Johnstown Ave. All our projects of our A Third Place Community Foundation. 2010 has been an amazing year, but 2011 with your presence and assistance, will be even more miraculous for our area.


Justice For the Poor program, and more in December

On Sundays at 12:30 pm we will have our special Advent and then Christmas Justice For the Poor DVD program and discussion along with a common meal. For those who want to attend a worship gathering we have our small group communion services at 11 a.m. during the season. (feel free to come even if you can't bring anything for the meal but if you can feel free to add anything to the feast or if you want to just enjoy the program and discussion that is good too). This program comes from Sojourners magazine and community in Washington, D.C. See

Nov. 28: Burger King Mom, first Sunday of Advent
Dec. 5: Is There Something Wrong with the Gospel of Prosperity?, second Sunday of Advent
Dec. 12: Standing at the corner of Church and State, third Sunday of Advent
Dec. 19: The Gospel according to New Orleans, fourth Sunday of Advent
Dec. 26: Outside The Gate: The Poor and the Global Economy, first Sunday of Christmas
Jan. 2: From Serial Charity to a Just Society, second Sunday of Christmas

These feature Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne, John Perkins, Richard Stearns, Tony Compola, Desmond Tutu, Heidi Unruh, David Batstone, E.J. Dionne Jr., Robert M. Franklin, and many others.

Other special events in December: Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 pm Decorating Party at the Center and community. Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 am to noon, mentoring and gardening, Cherokee School or in bad weather at the Center; Tuesday, Dec. 14 6:30 movie and free pizza, watching Powwow Highway; Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6:30 pm our annual Christmas Party, treats, carols, games. Share this post with others on your social media sites, email lists, etc.


Concert In Turley: Sat. Nov. 20 7 pm

David Rovics of Portland OR will be in Turley/NorthTulsa Saturday, Nov. 20, at 7 pm in concert at A Third Place Community, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. for a "songs of social significance" concert. He is the singer of "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" and lists guerilla gardening, one of our favorite community events, among his many song topics which also include peace and justice for all and environmental protection. Check out No one gets turned away at the concert but to help defray his expenses there is a suggested donation of $10 from those who can. But don't let expenses keep you and your friends from coming.

Below is the lyric to his song More Gardens Song:
More Gardens Song David Rovics This neighborhood is blighted That's what the people say Half the buildings are abandoned And everything is grey Half the kids have asthma 'Cause of the sewage plants nearby And the mayor doesn't seem to care If we live or die That's the situation Now let me take you to the part The center of this neighborhood What you could call the heart A vacant lot of broken glass For years that's what it's been But the neighbors got together Said this is where we will begin (Chorus) We'll dig this dirt Plant a seed Push aside the concrete So the earth beneath is freed We will plant a garden Grow some food to eat And the sunflowers looking to the sky Say we relclaim this street In one day we had accomplished What the mayor always said He was trying to bring us Through his clubs upon our heads The neighborhood is clean The dealers gone away We had good food to eat A place for the kids to play (Chorus) Twice the city came here Said this is not our land Twice the cops destroyed it All the work of our own hands Uprooted plants and broken tools Lay scattered all around But the next day the only thing you could see Was fingers in the ground (Chorus) Created February, 2004 Copyright David Rovics 2004, all rights reserved


A Letter To All To Support McLain High School: Dinner, Nov. 18, 6 pm

An Appeal For Support For Tulsa McLain High School
By Ron Robinson, class of 1972

On Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6 pm the new Tulsa McLain High School Foundation will hold a benefit dinner in the school gym, 4929 N. Peoria, to raise funds to endow the foundation for its mission of supporting the students at a time of public funding cutbacks and continuing economic decline in the community. All alumni, friends, and supporters of the northside and of educational justice should turn out in support.

It will be a fun way to reconnect or meet with one another and with the school and with the current students who are upholding the legacy of not being defined by the statistics and stereotypes but by the “Scot/Titan” spirit of still dreaming the impossible dream for their lives. One of my “impossible dreams” is that the new McLain Foundation will get support from alumni across the 50 years, from those who have left the neighborhoods they grew up in and those who still live here, and especially support across the racial lines. Our school and community has borne the brunt of much tension and change, but out of that conflict, because we lived it, we can become leaders for reconciliation. The Foundation is not a panacea for that deeper work, but it is a start and needs support.

The foundation is critical at a time when public educational funds have been cut and when the community around McLain suffers from the lowest income and lowest life expectancy in the area, 14 years below that of the zipcode just six miles south along the same Peoria Ave. McLain’s foundation is the last one to be created for a Tulsa high school. It is coming at a time when the school, now with several specific magnet programs and an alum for a principal, is transforming itself to continue growing leaders for the community, state, and nation.

McLain has had a unique history in the Tulsa schools during its 50 years serving students in Far North Tulsa and adjacent unincorporated areas such as Turley. It was built at a time of economic and community growth on the northside, but it was also built during a time of official segregation in Tulsa schools and within the city. When Tulsa schools began to be slowly integrated in the mid to late 60s, then more rapidly in the early 1970s, McLain and its feeder schools became the first to be rapidly and fully integrated and did so without the magnet program that developed later for city schools. It was on the front lines for needed change, and the rough lessons learned may have helped smooth the integration of other schools in other parts of the city that would come. However, there is much still to be done.

I was proud to be in the school during this time. I am proud that my senior year in 1972 was the first year for a black homecoming queen, the first of the long line to come. I am not proud of how at the very same time many of the advanced classes for college prep began to be eliminated at the school. It was not an easy time for any in many ways, and we had little of the kinds of orientation to multiculturalism that have been developed in the decades since and that were part of the first Magnet experiment. Plus, outside of the school at the same time, the surrounding neighborhoods were beginning their 40 year decline in population and loss of mainstream businesses and civic groups to support the school and community youth. Schools do not exist in vacuums; as communities convulsed, so did schools; conversely, though, as schools can make comebacks, so too then can it spill over into communities.

These changes in the 1970s placed an added stress to the long-held stigmas and stereotypes about the area, and to the racism that flared in reaction to integration as “white flight” occurred. Even though there were always (sometimes predominantly), and continue to be, persons of European ethnic descent living in the McLain area, many of the younger siblings of white McLain grads went to Washington High School instead after its integration occurred later, or they transferred out of the district or began the big shift toward private and suburban schools. A perfect storm of social change, decay, and lack of resources and stability all hit at once. There were at one time about as many students in one grade as there are now in what is a four-grade high school. The economic hit that happened to both white and black middle class and working class families in the 1980s, the drop in wages and home ownership, the rise in drug use and gangs, and the flight of business investment that chased after rooftops instead of reconciliation all left a fragile school even more vulnerable.

Within the span of one generation, while other schools became and stayed integrated, McLain went from being virtually an all-white, and American Indian, student population in official segregation days to virtually an all-black one today. Along the way even the name McLain was changed, to Tulsa School for Science and Technology. While some class reunions became separated by race, echoing the difficulties of uniting even with integration, one thing that seemed to unify many of both black and white alumni was the effort to return the name of the school to McLain. The original mascot name Scots, held proudly by many black alumni as well as white alumni, did not return with the name McLain, but alumni are proud to now be supporters of McLain Titans. (I do personally wish, however, that the added name Science and Technology would be dropped; all Tulsa high schools have some form of magnet programs now, but McLain is the only one with the added name of a technology school; nothing wrong per se with that, except there is already a Tulsa Tech, and to me it evokes the many historic officially segregated black schools who were designated as technical schools.)

Still, it should be said, that even during the years of the first integration at McLain, when the student populations were fairly evenly mixed ethnically, and even during the years when there was the greatest change and challenge from the problems in the community, and even during the years since when the school population has declined and during the name changes, and even today, there have been students, parents, faculty, and staff, and community mentors, working on the ground and producing graduates and leaders who have the skills and passion to make differences in their respective fields and, what might be more important, in their own communities. I am proud that some of them continue to do so in the neighborhoods that still feed into McLain.

To all alumni and former students (even if you weren’t graduated at McLain) and former teachers of McLain, I want to add my eyewitness account that change and transformation educationally is taking place now in a way we haven’t seen before. The school is of course struggling to continue its academic turning-around and to stay off the list of needs to improve state schools, but it is off the list; new magnet school programs at McLain are in the areas where society especially needs skilled leaders: environmental science, health careers, along with aviation. If you are working in some of these career areas, we need your expertise and connections; but regardless, you have skills and stories to share; we also need your presence and financial support to help keep the transformation going. Even if your own children, or grandchildren, are students elsewhere, we know McLain can still beckon to you. Even, like many, if your high school years were not easy ones, we need your support to make them a little easier for the students today who have challenges and obstacles the same or harder than we had. And even, if you are not a McLain alumni, or parent of a McLain student over the years, but have a passion for justice, here is a place to put that passion into real life.

Hope to see you not only at the Dinner (or support us with a contribution if you can’t make the launch party), but also with the McLain Initiative where every small act and help goes a tremendously long way in the lives here. Checks are payable to McLain High School Foundation and can be sent to Post Office Box 4444, Tulsa, OK 74159-0444. The foundation is a tax-exempt 501c3 organization. Dinner costs are $50 per person or $1,000 $2,000 $3,000 or $5,000 Sponsor Levels for tables of eight guests.

For more information or reservations contact:
or phone 918.587.7222

Ron Robinson
Class of 1972, McLain; Executive Director, A Third Place Community Foundation, 6514 N. Peoria Ave.; Board member, Tulsa McLain High School Foundation

Coming Events You Won't Want To Miss: Building Community From Ground Up

All Are Welcome. Share This and Pass it on to others in the TNT area of Turley/NorthTulsa.

Fundraiser Trivia Game Night For A Third Place, Thursday, Oct. 28, 8 to 10 pm, Joe Momma’s Pizza, 112 S. Elgin. Meal proceeds and direct donations taken.

Park Meadows Community Party, Sat. Oct. 30, Noon to 3 for Park Residents

Community Free Old Fashioned Halloween Party, Sat. Oct. 30 6 to 8 pm A Third Place

OU Community Medicine Clinic Friday mornings. A Third Place. Call 660-4419 for appt.

Turley Public Meeting—Tuesday Nov. 30 7 pm O’Brien Center

Community Arts and Crafts. Tuesday, Nov. 2, 6:30 pm at the Center.

Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 7 am to 7 pm.

"From Turley to TU" meeting, Nov. 5, 5:30 pm TCC NE campus Apache and Harvard

Forum on Schools, Thurs, Nov. 11, 5:30 dinner, 6 pm mtg. Gilcrease, 56th and Cincinnati

Diversity Movie Night Honoring Veterans, Tues. Nov. 9, 6:30 pm, A Third Place

Veterans Community Leader Appreciation Dinner, Wed. Nov. 10, 6 to 8 pm, A Third Place

Community Gardening, Mentoring, Random Acts of Kindness, Saturday Nov. 13, 10 am to noon, Free Lunch. Meet at Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria, Back Garden.
McLain Alumni & Foundation Dinner, Thursday, Nov. 18, 6 pm, 4929 N. Peoria Ave.

Thanksgiving Community Meal, Thursday, Nov. 25, Noon, A Third Place
Weekly Missional Church Gathering in A Third Place, Rev. Ron Robinson, 10 am, Sundays, communion, conversation, common meal, community projects.

Weekly 12 Step Recovery Group at the Center, Saturdays 7:30 pm

Weekly Volunteer Fire Department public meetings, Thursdays 7 pm, 6404 N. Peoria Ave.

Turley Water Board meeting last working day of each month 8:30 am, 6108 N. Peoria


OU Lecture: The Pragmatics of Collaboration, and Hope: The Example and Story of the Turley/Far North Tulsa Area

The longer draft of a somewhat shorter lecture given at the University of Oklahoma National Association of Social Work Conference, Friday, Oct. 22, 2010, by Rev. Ron Robinson, Executive Director, A Third Place Community Foundation.

I had finished a nice long keynote paper and was prepared to deliver it today, but then it occurred to me that since it was on the topic of collaborations, it would be rather contradictory to have me talking the whole time….So, in the spirit of The Daily Show with John Stewart’s Extended Interviews that run longer than television allows but are posted on the website, so too I have posted the longer version on our website… I hope this will be more fun and I will still talk too much…

I want to leave lots of room for Questions, also precisely Because one of the fundamental gifts of the collaboration between OU programs and our community renewal center is the questions the students and faculty ask. Not only because of what I learn from the questions, but even moreso because this gets our neighbors eventually starting to ask questions too..And one of the first things to be abandoned when you live in a place that has been abandoned by others is the practice of questioning. As long as you can keep coming up with questions, there is still hope for change. Once you give up questions, the status quo of cynicism and helplessness sets in.

It takes effort, though, to ask questions, especially if you aren’t getting paid to ask them, or not getting a grade to ask them, or have been raised not to ask them, then questioning the how and the why of the world in which you live, even the what of what you have to give back to that world, is all a pretty strenuous thing. In our culture of convenience, ours not to question why, to rephrase the old poem, but to consume and die.

The first question for us today will be why talk about the Turley, Far North Tulsa, Oklahoma area? The quick answer, and it is fitting for the place we are gathered in or coming to you from today, is that there has been “a perfect storm” that hit our edge community, where urban and rural and small town literally bleed into one another, and made it a shadow of a community, fitting for the downtown skyscrapers that you can see off and on from our place. This collision of forces and events over the course of little more than one generation turned the area from a mostly blue collar working class fairly cohesive and fairly homogenously ethnic community with a culture of collaboration and a core of social groups, into a place of great social fragmentation, where our main zipcode of 74126 has the lowest life expectancy in the wider area, 14 years lower than a zipcode just six miles due south of us on the same street. There has been a great emptying out of both people and places for community to happen. So much so that we used to think of community as a simple noun, as a thing. Now we are learning to think of it as a verb, as something that must be continually enacted for it to actually exist. We will look at more of how this happened. But keep in mind it is not a case of the past was better and something we want to get back to—not at all; and likewise we will see how the current state, the real and perceived weaknesses and scarcity, can actually be an advantage for creating the kind of community that our emerging future will favor.

Then we will lift up some of the ways collaboration is happening as a response to the social decay, bearing in mind our own initiative called A Third Place Community has inherited the efforts of others before us, and we are just a few years old, the new kid.

Finally, we will consider the deep nature of the collaboration needed for such a place as ours, and know there are many such places, and not all of them are geographic ones, and how these new more radical approaches can, may, can enable us to go from surface connections to sustainable community.

The longer original draft, from which I excerpted for the lecture (some additions not here will be added in later:

One of the favorite things I like to do with social work students, faculty, visitors of all kinds, and even long-time residents of what I sometimes call the “Greater Turley area” or “Far North Edge of Tulsa” is to go on a local tour. Especially if we have time to do more than a windshield tour, but can stop and look and listen and talk. Like any tour guide I usually learn something from what people see and ask, and in the responding to the questions even deeper questions and answers come to me that I can later dive into. I love surprises and stories and every new tour is full of them.
I also love the questions that students ask; in fact, one of the fundamental gifts that the OU Social Work students bring to our area and residents is the gift and model of questioning. The questions the residents hear get them to thinking and asking their own questions. To wondering why really something has happened, what really might be done, what really can’t be done, who might be involved in decisions, and how they might find a way to be involved too. One of the first things to be abandoned when you live in a place that has been abandoned by others is the practice of questioning. Because as long as you can question, as long as you feel the drive to question, then there is still hope. Once you give up questions, the status quo of cynicism and helplessness becomes the dominant culture.
But it takes effort to ask questions too. Each question begins a journey and it might not end the way you hope, or it might not end. And so it takes energy to ask questions. And if you aren’t getting paid to ask questions, or not getting a grade to ask questions, then questioning the whys of the world in which you live, and the whats of what you have to give to that world, is all a pretty strenuous thing. Especially when your culture is geared around taking the convenient route. Ours not to question why, to re-phrase the old poem, just to consume and die.
All of which is my way to introduce my talk. It will be like one of those tours of our area. But instead of stopping at specific landmarks, we will stop at a series of question locations. My former graduate seminary professor, the author scholar and lecturer Dr. Brandon Scott, has said that the deepest quest and commitment and hardest task for the scholar is to come up with the at most three questions in her field that will guide the rest of her career. I am not a scholar (I had two choices in my life where I was about to launch into PhD work, one in English and later one in Biblical Interpretation, and the first time my own passion took me in another direction, and the latter time Dr. Scott thankfully saved the academia from me when he asked me if I was in love with footnotes...I said I love to read them, but not research them.) I am not a scholar but I believe he is right and that it applies to the world of community renewers too. What are the guiding questions for our community? For us today they are also the places we will visit on our verbal tour.
1. Why Turley? Which has buried within it the questions What is Turley and Who are Turley? And why does it matter?
2. Why focus on collaboration? Its problems and its promise as well as its pragmatics?
3. Why are we an area with the greatest health care needs, including food and nutrition of course, and the least resources, and how is collaboration the only true route toward survival and sustainability?

Why talk about the Turley area? I believe nearly every metropolitan area has a two mile radius area like ours, but we are especially representative of a perfect storm of cultural forces that make us a teachable place, at this teachable moment. For me, as for the Community Services Council in Tulsa, Turley is a part of Far North Tulsa. Turley is the unincorporated, past the end of the sidewalk,literally, part of Far North Tulsa.

Once upon a time, when I was very very little even before starting school, Turley was for all of Far North Tulsa the closest concentration of businesses including movie theater, pharmacies, several groceries, a doctor and dentist, homes, civic groups, churches, schools up to ninth grade, park, small airport, children’s home, water department, fire department, community center, merchants association, rodeo grounds, skating rink, and small farms. There was at this time before the building of McLain High School in the late 1950s a few miles of relatively undeveloped land between Turley, which was mostly white and American Indian, and the other parts of North Tulsa, primarily the segregated African American section closer toward downtown and the wealthy white Reservoir Hill housing community, and then toward the other working class white neighborhood to the east called Dawson. Dawson was in the city limits of Tulsa where Turley was not. Nor was Turley, like the other fairly separate towns in north Tulsa County like Sperry and Skiatook and Owasso, incorporated as its own town though it was as large or larger than they were. Also Unlike them, and unlike the other unincorporated neighboring community to the west over into the Osage County called Barnsdall 55, which kept its own school district until it closed, Turley had ended its independent school district back before World War Two and became a part of Tulsa Public Schools. I would love to have time to do some historical research into the discussions that went into that decision, and into the decisions about why Turley never incorporated in its formative and growing years.

I have been told by family that there was fear from merchants that taxes would be levied to support the school in the future and for the growth like for a football stadium that would mean taking land from around the school to expand it. That would mean there was in the town’s DNA, and this was just coming out of the Great Depressioin, a sense of scarcity or fear, of collaborating for greater community benefit. It might have been part of the reason for not seeking to incorporate the town, though of late when community association members sought to incorporate it took them three times through the state legislature to get the approval because of the nearness of the boundaries of existing cities and towns. I have a hunch that in the past my ancestors simply felt that it was too much bother for too little gain given that the town looked and acted like a self governing community. They had no idea of the changes that would come that would begin decimating all the community social capital and infrastructure and connections that they took for granted.

So coming out of World War Two, and with the rise of the baby boom population, the community had no local self government and no local control of its schools. But the business owners lived in town; the churches were full and ministers lived in town; the schools were full and teachers for a large part lived in town or nearby; the Sheriff’s deputy lived in town; the fire department volunteers worked and lived in town; and the children of the area by and large went to school together and to churches in their areas and played sports or were in scouting groups in after school leagues and groups with their classmates who lived within walking distance of one another. All of that is now gone.

The community had been built by those of the Builders generation who had a forward looking frontier settling vision, sustained by The Greatest Generation that went off to fight World War Two and Korea or to maintain homes and community during it. And then came Television, and our world got both bigger, transporting us to so many places—Vietnam, Watts, the moon; and smaller, making us feel attached to those places, all at the same time. Communication changes precede culture changes and worldview changes. As we know there soon became with the Baby Boom generation, my generation, a preference for all things bigger and bigger and bigger: schools, rock concerts, churches, stores. Small communities were dissipated in the wake. Dislocation, meaning our sense of community was no longer what it had been, happened first to us culturally and then to us physically. Everything began to get bigger, to inflate, right before all the air went out.

The Turley Methodist Church, the first Turley church, grew so much during this time that in the early to mid 60s it moved out of its place in the middle of the community where it had begun and moved halfmile west to a hilltop where a new building was constructed with a great view near a newly built subdivision. It could assume that everyone would still go out of their way to find it and the folks in the new housing edition, which was annexed by the city of Tulsa by the way, would flood into it. Which they did at first. And then, the year after the new church building opened, probably the largest square foot building in the community, the Tulsa Public Schools integrated. Began, I should say, to integrate the far northern schools as the first areas.

The perfect storm hit. Integration was good, long overdue. But Racism created the phenomenon of white flight as residents fled to the other parts of Tulsa and especially to the suburban towns which began their great rise in population at that time, and concurrently with that as more families of color moved nearer the schools where their children could now attend, few new white families moved into the area. Between 1960 and 2000 the white population in North Tulsa declined by 50 and 60 percent or more; the black population in some segments of North Tulsa, particularly the old north or previously segregated area, also declined by fairly similar percentages. Along with this occurred the departure of the major oil companies from Tulsa to Houston and elsewhere, and with them the trickle down to the blue collar jobs of the ones who lived in the Turley area. And the pressures on working class families became more intense as prices rose, salaries didn’t keep pace, unions were marginalized, the gap between those with “just” high school education and college education grew wider, as a culture of consumerism and acquiring stuff grew dominant, and in part as a result of those pressures addictions of many kinds, and gangs, increased. And other companies as they grew began to move farther away from downtown and near Westside and further out on the edges of Tulsa making the commute harder for those remaining in Turley, and for all the kids who grew up and went to school in Turley their jobs were elsewhere for the most part so they went where those were, and as they had young families too at that time, they also succumbed to the white flight and new places to where the new schools and money was flowing. It was both the American Dream, and its shadow side. I think of the Perfect Storm forces as a kind of collaboration itself, like that between low education unemployment addictions and gangs, that fed the abandonment of our place; and why a kind of collaboration that puts communities, neighborhoods and land and people first is the antidote.

Even as my wife and I were finishing up at McLain High, the college prep classes of advanced science and math and other advanced courses were being cut from the curriculum. And soon after we were graduated, and our senior school year was the first for McLain to have a black homecoming queen (just about all after that were), and we had at the time a fairly well integrated school, by the numbers if not by the spirit, but soon after that the school system transformed the historic segregated black high school in town also on the northside into a magnet integrated school that attracted many students with the best grades and discipline records to it, both black and white, many that would have kept going to McLain and to other schools in the area. The magnet high school had white students from all sides of Tulsa attending it along with core black students from the local area, but, of course, the white families who sent their children to school on the northside did not move to the community surrounding the school, nor invest in it. So the communities continued to decline. Pretty soon you had a situation with McLain High School where at one time when it was founded in 1959 it was virtually all white, and American Indian; and by one generation later, it was virtually all black and was being treated in large part as a glorified technical school, not bad in itself of course, but it was not all that different from the way the previously segregated black high schools had been treated in cities across America. McLain even lost its name for several years; becoming the Tulsa School For Science and Technology; not it has the McLain name back, but alone among the Tulsa schools, all of whom like it now have some form of magnet programs, it still has the added on descriptor of Science and Technology.

This has lasting effects. As at McLain we sometimes have reunions for the same class years with black alumni and white alumni meeting and celebrating separately, and little connection between the grades from the years when it was all white to all black; with just a few of those years such as in my time when it had a nearly equal mix of students based on ethnicity. McLain was the last school in the Tulsa system to have an alumni and community foundation, and it just got started this past summer, in an effort to begin the slow process of reversing all of this disconnection. McLain is the high school for our area; there are no private high schools in the area unlike in other areas. The school has a real and symbolic effect on the life of the community and down into the elementary schools in the neighborhoods.

The re-segregation of our schools and area is both real and an illusion. When people think of North Tulsa they often think Black Tulsa and only of that which is in the city limits. But North Tulsa has always been, as we have seen, a place of great ethnic diversity, at first a segregated diversity, but now you will find all races in the section 8 housing, the neighborhoods, the stores, and some of the schools. When people think of Turley they often think of Poor Whites. But over the years more and more black residents have been moving in and staying in all of the neighborhoods. And we have always had sizable numbers of our original American Indian inhabitants. These stereotypes, rooted in some real statistics, are held by people within Far North themselves, both white and black, both in city limits and outside. The other night I was at an event at McLain and met African Americans who thanked me for coming across town to support the school; I set them straight and that confounded them even more, I think, because, to their defense, there has been a real lack of support, or collaboration, between whites and blacks who are both living in Far North Tulsa. This is embedded early in life. For example, the students who begin school at the elementary school in Turley’s unincorporated side, a majority now of white students, will not go on to the predominantly black middle school and if they do they won’t by and large go on to McLain, predominantly black. In fact many of the white children who live in the Turley area transfer now to nearby Sperry public school, or to private schools, or charter schools and never enter into the traditional Tulsa public schools that are feeder schools to McLain.

Between 1960 and 2000: the population of Far North in general declined 15 percent, but the population of those under the age of four years old, young families, fell 53 percent; the population over 65 percent gained 205 percent.

In just the past ten years The elementary schools in our area declined 31.5 percent; the two closest to us declined 55 and 42 percent. In just seven years between 2002 and 2009, the two elementary schools closest to us drifted apart in ethnicity; at one school, Cherokee, the historic Turley school, black students declined in this period 52.9 percent having 65 such students out of a total 221; however, school officials tell me this year the figures have changed a bit again and there is a more equitable balance and the school is one of the most diverse in the system with a third white students, a third black students, and a combined third Hispanic and American Indian; during the past ten years the other elementary school, the newer one built in the late 60s early 70s to handle that growth that had just occurred but was about to bottom out, retained an overwhelming black student population with just 12 white students out of 147. In the middle and high school level, the racial and ethnic concentration is also evident: In 2009 there were 523 students at McLain, 27 of whom were white. Compare that with the historic black high school Booker T. Washington, an academic magnet school that draws from all across the city, which had the same year 1270 students, 515 of whom were white and 512 of whom were black. Adding in the far north public middle school with its 379 students, of which 46 were white, and for the two Far North schools in our area sixth grade to twelth there are 902 students, of which 73 are white students.

The upshot of this, of all this, is the continuing deepening fragmentation of all parts of the surrounding community from each other. And that race and class issues are a part of it, but not all of it. Still, we will not undo what has been done until we can, in the spirit of abundance, talk about race and class. For what keeps much collaboration from happening among residents who remain is the old shame that we have missed the boat of the American Dream; as civil rights leader John Perkins of Mississippi has described it about the areas he lives in, among blacks and whites, if we are still living here, we begin to think that there is something wrong with us; otherwise like other whites or others of color with money and education we would live somewhere else; and if there is something wrong with us than we must deserve what we get, or rather what we don’t get, for living here. We embed shame and that keeps us silent and silence preserves the status quo.

So, that Methodist Church I was telling you about, the harbinger of the growth in the area after WWII and up to the mid Sixties? As the neighborhoods changed ethnic makeup around it, and as the culture of church going shifted, it began to shrink in numbers as soon as it hit its peak; now in its big building, few attend on Sunday and some of those drive back into the community to do so. And its building from the 1920s that it had left when it had outgrown it? Well it housed different ethnic oriented congregations for the next forty years then has sit empty for the last few years, a kind of ghost witness to all that used to be growing and thriving around it but which has also been abandoned and in many instances demolished so there is no physical trace of what once was. This includes one of the original Turley High School buildings, the tallest building in the area for years and years, built in 1920 and demolished in 2005, with, I must add, a lot of wonderful architectural elements and history and even school books still inside.

When my wife and I moved back in 2005, though we had been back all the time with my extended family having remained in the area, Gone were the local owned groceries and lumber companies and most cafes, movie theater, pharmacies, doctor and dentist, gone were the civic groups (except the odd fellows lodge which still meets but most of its members are from elsewhere), the churches as noted were struggling, other churches mostly African American in culture would rent storefronts or buildings in the area for the cheap rent but as they grew they moved into the city side of the area to be available for community development block grants and to be closer to where the ministers lived; the schools were now down to the fifth grade and each year enrollment was a challenge and attendance maintaining a chore; when we moved back there was a 80 percent mobility rate for the elementary school during the year; gone was the community center, airport, the children’s home was a correctional facility privately owned, no merchants association for decades and only a small few who supported the community; the water department and fire department continue but continue to struggle. The rodeo grounds continue but for those who live outside the community mostly, just like the county park has been gutted of shelters that were attractive for local area families and in their place were put larger sports complexes that draw in people from the suburbs; the youth have to leave the area to be in sports leagues now and to play outside of their community; and the small farms have been changed into auto salvage yards. The post office in Turley moved from near the school to a small strip of businesses and is threatened now with closure. And as I like to mention there is no pizza delivery for most of the northside just a few miles away from downtown in Tulsa, one of those taken for granted community building especially for youth aspects of life. Such a small thing, I know, but related I believe indirectly to a very big thing. That just between May 1 and August 4 of this year, there were 311 reported shootings, the bulk of them in or near our zipcode. That doesn’t count the ones on the unincorporated side; and doesn’t include the unreported ones.
This is why our zipcode has the lowest life expectancy in the Tulsa area, fourteen years lower than that of the zipcode with the highest, just six miles south of us, right along the same street.

So all that history to give you a sense of the place as it was and as it is. A perfect microcosm of the cultural changes and forces that have created the fault lines in community. And remember, as the theologian Jorgen Moltmann puts it, that the opposite of poverty is not property, but the opposite of both is community. ….

2. The Collaborative Response: Why and How?
Into the world of fragmentation, against the status quo, there have always been a few in our Far North area living and working against the grain of the culture. Starting a community association, or a local small business, or working within the parks or school system to be a voice for community, or just choosing not to move. When we began operating A Third Place Community Center and Foundation in 2007, there were people ready for a catalyst just about of any sort. I am not sure any were used to our kind of radical collaboration though. For the first thing we did, as an act of building trust and vulnerability, which are the key foundations of collaboration, was to collaborate with strangers, to turn our newly rented building and space over to neighbors whom we barely knew.
We few residents who created the center, created a library and computer center and clothing room and food pantry and community gathering and meeting space and meals out of our own combined resources. And we said come and take what you need, no questions asked, and leave what you can to help us support what we do. To help us make the rent and utilities most months. No one gets paid. We put it all into operations. We want to be broke at the end of the month, like most of our neighbors. We trust that we will have enough to go around. And we trusted people with keys. We had our bumps and our welcoming and safe and civil space culture to protect in its fragile stage, and still do, but we began by a radical openness to collaboration, even if you had a not so good reputation, even if you were just out of jail, even if you were homeless, even if you had a very different religious or political persuasion than we did. That is the mission of Third Places; vital to our lives are not only first places like homes, or second places like jobs or affinity groups or churches where we gather along some designated lines, but we need those third places of real trusting radical community where diversity can flourish and authentic community can find roots and begin to grow again.
With that culture beginning to be seeded, we began to collaborate with the University of Oklahoma. First to bring in health care providers. Then with the Social Work department, which had helped to bring in the health care providers, we began to collaborate on some of the Center’s mission to help bring residents together and in a safe space and structured way (which was unique for most in their experience with community gatherings here) for them to listen to one another and lament and to hope and to plan and to share ideas and resources. From these we began collaborating each semester with different classes working in different areas on the topics of interest that had emerged from the grassroots meetings: abandoned properties, blighted neighborhoods, food insecurity, poor health, fear of crime, youth needs, job needs, stray and wild animals, better schools and support for our schools and for our local groups. We began to see the overlap in many of those areas, resulting in one of our collaborative projects, The WelcomeTable Community GardenKitchenPark project where we, residents and social work students, identified abandoned homes in a block, purchased the block, and have a design thanks to OU Graduate Design Studio, for how to create a kind of outdoors A Third Place Center that can be beautiful, inspire community events, grow relationships through food production, and more.
Through first our collaboration with one another, with radical trust and vulnerability, which means we know we will fail each other and have our hearts broken, but will try again and show up with one another again;., this led to our second collaboration with OU and some of its varying disciplines and departments, and I know we could collaborate with so many more OU departments and classes that have a connection between their fields and the areas of our service; and this collaboration led to our third level of collaboration, our wider sphere, as we began to meet with other individuals and groups throughout our Far North area, what has been called From TU to Turley area, with community coalition meetings, with joint projects like the McLain High School initiative, the Food For Life initiative of the Indian Health Care Resource Center, and with other partners small and large who have a dream for making life better for our residents by growing the spirit of community and making it real through real collaborations.
Which has led us, after just three years, into our next phase where we will create a house for these collaborations, a house for hope itself. We are in the process of buying that old abandoned Turley Methodist building that has stood at the center of our part of Far North Tulsa since it was constructed in the 1920s. We are doing so, I am pleased to say particularly here and with you all, with the kind and generous help of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation. It will allow us to expand three times our current size. Our vision is that one third of it will be a Community Academy space, a hub especially for new visions of community health and nutrition, a place for classrooms and group clinics, a specialty library, for partners like OU and many others to do service learning in the neighborhoods of most need, to connect their students with our residents for the mutual transformation of both. Another one third of the space will be a Community Center with many of our current services plus an expanded Food Justice Focus, and one third of it will be a place, a quiet chapel, for individual and group meditation and prayer and spiritual renewal. And an adjacent building will be a Center for Community Gardening and Sustainability. And someday in many rooms in the basement we hope to provide spaces for people to sojourn with us temporarily as they serve with us at the center and out in the community. Our vision is also that even this new bigger building won’t be the end, just as the outdoor garden park won’t be the end, but that all across our area, in what we call our Four Directions Initiative, we will find a diversity of ways to create “third places” in every neighborhood.
The social fragmentation described at the beginning of my talk was the byproduct of the abandonment of institutions and neighborhoods in our area, along with the general cultural changes of wider society, in the last few decades of the 20th century. In these first decades of the 21st century, to change that, we can’t jump straight to bringing back or recreating new institutions and thriving healthy neighborhoods in our area. We must first address the result of social and community fragmentation, isolation, fear and mistrust of one another, and of others, especially in ethnic relationships. And only then can we have the soil full of life in which all the surface level things like businesses and civic groups can grow. I have often said that it will do no good to have an official incorporated town for Turley unless the values of community, of collaboration, are what first are incorporated.

3. The Challenge of Collaboration and Hope: or, Why Is Our Area The Place of Greatest Health Needs, lowest life expectancy, and the fewest resources located within it?
Collaborations, especially when people into voluntary association with one another, are based on covenant, or promises, and not on contracts, which are set quid pro quo type agreements that guide much of the rest of our lives, such as jobs and sometimes where we live. To paraphrase another theologian, Martin Buber of the Jewish tradition, we are the promise making, promise breaking, promise renewing people. This means what we do isn’t easy, especially now. The kinds of collaborations that happened in the days of homogeneity and stability in the Turley area, the days of growth, those that some of us are tempted to recall with nostalgia, occurred under the best of social circumstances and with a culture that reinforced them. What we do now and attempt now together in this world of social fragmentation has echoes only in the faroff days of the early Builders generation, the frontier, when the community was first forming; but in fact, it is much harder even than that in many ways because there is not an empty canvas and because we must wrestle with the legacies, especially ethnically, of all that has happened since then, and without the kinds of commonalities that shaped the founders and their world, a world before television, when the most common communication mode for our community was only face to face, for all intents and purposes, since there was no local newspaper or mass media, it leaned heavily toward being an oral culture. And in oral cultures, where individuals are dependent upon one another for knowledge, collaboration is a necessity for survival. Contrast that, these 100 years later, with our electronic web culture, with virtually everyone having their own mass media carrying around with them, and you see why collaboration is itself so against the grain of postmodern life.

And yet, as mentioned, in the world of social fragmentation such as in our zipcodes, collaborating with others is also a necessity if another kind of world is going to be possible. The redeeming aspect, the gift we have been given, is that in such a world of abandonment and isolation, a little collaboration goes a very long way. Our initiative with A Third Place is a testament to that. When just a few people collaborate to plant a small wildflower bed along the bike path where strangers to our area ride through our area without riding just a block or two off the path into our area because we have no sidewalks, then such a small act of welcoming, or reminding the stranger that there is a community of people here, such a very small act really stands out in ways that would be lost if the same thing were done in other areas. So it is when just a few become the defacto city waste management and go pick up the littered furniture along the streets where they have been illegally dumped, when they are seen picking up trash along the street because it is their street and not because they have community service hours. Or when we throw free communities parties, offer free community meals, collect food from those who others think can only be given it, plant gardens at schools, organize public forums, keep an open place where people can come with their questions or offerings of help. Small acts of justice, of random kindness and beauty, done with great love, and hope, and faithfulness, done with one or two or more people, all of these change the world. At a time when so many people feel they have so little to give back, where they choose to give of themselves can make a big difference, and places such as ours are ripe for their investments.

Just know there will be setbacks and reactions to every transformation; and every collaboration carries with it the possibility, probability, of being hurt so that the doorway to cynicism and retreat back into the status quo of the fragmented world is always open and beckoning. Our challenge is to respond by living more fully in the “as if” world where each setback allows us to see the horizon clearer and more partners possible.

So, just as we are getting close to owning that new house of hope, the old abandoned church building, as a site of transformation itself, after all these years it was hit with extensive vandalism. It was a gut punch, but we’d been there before and it dawns on us that we now will need to rely on many others than we thought we would at first, just to do clean up and get the building back into the rundown shape it was in. We know the collaborators are there though. We set our sights higher. Just as when we were beginning to transform an empty vacant lot into a native plant nature trails area. This site is situated strategically by our gardenkitchenpark site, and in a bridge location between groups within our area, alongside where people walk quite a distance to school and stores. Just when we were about to unveil it, a new person mowing grassy areas nearby mowed it all down; but we know being native plants they will return in beauty, and this time we know we will be better prepared with better collaboration, and signs ahead of time, so it will be a new, easily maintained, site of beauty where before people would have only seen what was there as weeds, and waste. What a metaphor for our whole area. Just as when we decided to surprise our community on Easter Sunday morning with a row of flowers along Peoria Ave. in big pots, so that in the morning they would drive by and see these gifts of hope, but during the night, someone went along and dumped the flowers and dirt on the ground and took the pots, and so the residents were greeted with little piles of discarded dirt and trampled flowers; we learned from that we have a deep culture of kicking things to the curb in our area so people just think automatically they are there for the taking, and not for the giving (at least in our better days we give them such a benefit of the doubt); besides nothing like that, nothing like us, had ever happened in the area before. Out of that, came the Let Turley Bloom initiative where we would create such areas more securely by planting in the ground itself rather than in pots. And of course there are many more even smaller ways that changing the culture takes perseverance.

Our latest setback from collaboration itself, which we are using to help us to see wider and collaborate even more, comes from the presumed pending closure of our community health clinic which OU has operated with us as one of our first joint ventures. This past summer all of the similar clinics on the northside were closed; ours was the only one left open but our contract was redone for just one more year. We had gradually been reduced from up to three days a week at one point down to just one morning a week. Funders hit by the recession…Difficulties in getting people who aren’t used to preventive care as part of something one does or can do to take advantage of the clinic…turnover of staff…mutual lack of communication about needs…perhaps a concern about a duplication of services of primary care with other institutions? Only in areas of scarcity does it seem duplication of services is an issue; not in places of more wealth and insurance. For Still you come back to the facts on the ground that we have the lowest life expectancy; our residents, because they have been without health care, were sicker and so in more need of referrals and that costs more, and they did not have health insurance as they were unemployed. So there are higher costs and little income to care for them. Of course they are going to keep going to the emergency rooms for their urgent care and being admitted there and so the costs for someone is going to be even higher.

Our response could be, drawing from the history of institutions and our area, see, we shouldn’t have trusted in the first place; we are now losing something again, and literally nurse our wounds and grow our grudges. Instead, we choose the collaborative response and say how can we turn this weakness into a strength?

First, I am not 100 percent given up on the idea that some form of direct care providing can’t continue, given that other clinics in the other parts of Tulsa where there are more people and more insurance streams are still operating full days (maybe a bit of resource shifting is possible, in order to see and show that the patient you are caring for in community health is not just an individual, but is the community itself); and there are some developments through other institutions nearby which might over time open up some traditional care opportunities in our zipcode; we are hopeful….But beyond all this our attention is being drawn to how we can take a loss and make it a tremendous gain, how we can actually help form a new response to health care that will get to the root causes of what lands people even in primary care clinics in the first place; a new network of lay health leaders who live in the neighborhoods of need themselves, who can connect their communities with institutions of health, being two-way teachers, to providers about neighborhoods, and to residents about health literacy, self-care and monitoring, and when they do get to see doctors and providers how to be better patients and get the most out of those encounters. For we know that just getting persons and physicians together doesn’t magically make health happen. We are working on grants, and looking at somewhat similar models elsewhere, and hope that our area, even at a time of losing a modern-era medical clinic, can create a gift not only for our area but for others of a way of growing healthy lives and neighborhoods that is both post-modern, truly communal, and draws on the wisdom of the frontier….This vision had its roots in a collaborative brainstorming Sunday afternoon at A Third Place Center with various members of the OU community when we were looking at being a site for a competition known as the X Prize for Revolutionizing Health Care; we said then that if we didn’t win the prize, or as the case turned out, weren’t even eligible for it, that the ideas were too wonderful, too “disruptively innovative” that they would have a life beyond…And so they are again with these plans…And we know again that if the grants don’t come, that they will continue to find a way in our new place to become seeds of what can be created out of the heart of hope, the heart of collaboration, for the heart of the real issues that have kept us apart, kept us struggling, kept us sick.

I close with the full quote from theologian of hope Moltmann, who witnessed the destruction of whole communities in firebombing and other acts of horror throughout Europe during World War Two. He writes: “The ideology of “there is never enough for everyone” makes people lonely. It isolates them and robs them of relationships. The opposite of poverty isn’t property. The opposite of both poverty and property is community. For in community we become rich: rich in friends, in neighbours, in colleagues, in comrades, in brothers and sisters. Together, as a community, we can help ourselves in most of our difficulties. For after all, there are enough people and enough ideas, capabilities and energies to be had. They are only lying fallow, or are stunted and suppressed. So let us discover our wealth; let us discover our solidarity; let us build up communities; let us take our lives into our own hands and at long last out of the hands of the people who want to dominate and exploit us. (Jurgen Moltmann, The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and The Theology of Life, Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1997; English translation, SCM Press, Ltd: London, p. 109-110.

Our hands, from many places, many colors, that do many kinds of work; Our hope, Our health, Our Community.

A Quick Amazing Look At This Past Year: Oct. 2009 to Today

Major Activities of A Third Place Community Foundation
Turley North Tulsa
Oct. to Oct. 2009-10

Let us stress these are some of the major highlights and ongoing projects, not all by any means.
If any of these are enticing, calling you to participate, or spin off a project, let us know.

Monthly: breakfasts and lunches, movie night, Turley Community Association, North Tulsa community coalitions, McLain School Initiative, Healthy Cornerstores Initiative, Turley Leadership Council,

Weekly or One Time Events:
OU Medical Clinic
Community Vision Forums
Community Halloween Festival
Community Thanksgiving meal
Community Christmas party
Weekly Nutrition class
Community Academy classes to do community projects
Community Tours .
Turley Leadership Retreats
Daily free summer lunch program
Gardens and Beautification and Cleanup Day in Turley
Four Directions Initiative for Community Renewal Started
Celebration of Juneteenth and Local Food Week and Turley Festival
Food Bank site
OU medical resident visits and talks
Community life surveys
Housing Site For U.S. Census
Talks about community health with OU medical students
Poverty Education Workshop coordinated at O’Brien Recreation Center
Cherokee School community garden days
Greeley School Garden Day
Information Booth at McLain High School Community Bash
Party Among the Ruins at Community Garden Kitchen Park site
Purchase of The Welcome Table Community Garden Kitchen Park site
OU Student Idea Day For Fundraising For Community Projects class events
Turley Heritage Day, Fall Beautification and Gardening Event and Meal
Cherokee School Safety and Turley Historic Downtown Community Project
Abandoned Properties Project
A Third Place Computer Center
A Third Place Library
A Third Place Clothing and more Donations
Community Resource Information Sharing

Donate at the button above or write a check and Make This Year Even More Amazing
6514 N. Peoria Ave. Turley, OK 74126
794-4637 or 691-3223 or 430-1150 contact Ron Robinson, Executive Director


Transforming Garden at Greeley Elementary School

A Third Place and our volunteers transformed the front entry into one of our neighborhood elementary schools near us, Horace Greeley School, at 63rd and N. Cincinnati. Lifting the spirits of the children as they come and go, plus possibilities of outdoor science and nature learning. Read below for what we did a weekend ago, and call 4301150 if you want to be a part of our ongoing community gardening efforts. And go by and see Greeley and support the school and all our public schools.

Here’s what we did.
1. We stripped the turf, removed “all” the grass roots, laid paths of mulch over landscape fabric or cardboard across the back of the bed and into the bed in the middle of each wall (about half way between the windows). This creates smaller sections of the bed and allows easy access for care.
2. In each smaller section we centered a crape myrtle tree in the window. This will only need pruning to remove dead wood and any low branches that block the beautiful leggy look of crape myrtle trees. The reason some people cut the tops off must be to control the size but crape myrtles come in many sizes now and growth is stronger if they are not topped. They have white blooms and are Natchez variety.
3. Across the front of each bed is a row of white meadow salvia or sage; this will fill in by this time next year into a soft row of white flowers. If you want to see what they will look like in a year, the ones we planted at Cherokee School last fall were the same size then.
4. In a semicircle around the crape myrtle we planted yarrow, mostly yellow some red. This has soft ferny foliage and flowers in the summer that butterflies love.
5. In the back of the bed right in front of the path we planted daylilies and daffodils
6. In every planting hole we tried to place a daffodil or two. We planted 135 king Alfred daffodils and ran out, so it may be skimpy in spots but they will quickly spread as will the daylilies.
7. All the plants are drought resistant so in a couple years may only need water during extreme drought but while they are spreading their roots I recommend checking them every other day for a week or two then weekly if it doesn’t rain. Just pull back the mulch a little to see if the soil is damp about an inch down. It’s easy to just get the mulch wet or the bed may not dry out as fast as you think because of the mulch.


BE THERE, BE HERE THIS WEEKEND: Heritage Lunch, Cleanup, Beautifying Turley, and More

First, Come to the Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave., this Friday Sept. 24 from 6 to 7 pm. Give an hour to help us clean up the dumping from our streets as we get ready for Turley Area Heritage Day the next day. Free supper for all helpers. Great for families, church youth groups, etc.

Second, Come to the Center on Saturday, Sept. 25 for some or all of these actions: at 8 am on to be a part of Beautifying Turley Area through community planting projects. And/or come at 9 am as we meet with OU graduate students to hear of their work planning ways to help our projects in this part of the Tulsa North area.

Third, at 11 am come hear and share stories of Turley area history and help us create a Map of What Used To Be Here Where.

At noon we will have a heritage lunch of soups and salads and more, freewill donations, and live music from Johnny and The Oklahomans until 1 pm. Then more work with OU students, or more cleanup and beautification plantings, and an update on the community renewal initiatives of A Third Place Community Foundation with tours of the new spaces for our Welcome Table Garden Kitchen Park and new Center.

Every Saturday at 7:30 pm Recovery Group at the Center.

Sunday mornings church at the Center 10 am. Call Rev. Ron Robinson 6913223 for updates and more on the spiritual gatherings.

Come anytime and bring your dreams for Renewing Community, Empowering Residents, Growing Healthy Neighborhoods.

We our working on a major initiative to recreate a Turley downtown community space by Cherokee School to make for safer students, better business, and attract new businesses. We are working on an initiative to start a lay health advisor program with OU in our area. We are working with the McLain School Initiative transforming our community's public high school. We are helping make sure every school is a garden. We are transforming and expanding our Center focus on food justice and our ongoing programs. All of these need your help. Come join with our volunteers and grow our community together.


Yes!!! Miracle(s) Among The Ruins: We Did It, Thank You; We Are Doing Even More, Come Join The Movement

It is my pleasure and privilege to tell you that the Miracle Among The Ruins, version one, is happening. Over the weekend we raised the final amount needed to close on the property. So thank you, thank you, thank you, and now let's keep the good things coming... Read other posts below about the community garden kitchen park project underway here; and if you haven't donated to it, we still need support; buying the property is the first step but we will need to buy supplies, and pay for construction of the new areas.

Keep reading this to hear some new developments in our latest ongoing big projects for renewing our area. We will do them too with your participation. Another world is not only possible, but is here among us, emerging.

1. All of you who have donated to the Miracle Among the Ruins Welcome Table Project have been helping us get double out of our donations, as we can also now it is hoped use our ownership of the property as part collateral on the down payment for our own two and a half times bigger building of our own we are seeking to purchase
I am planning on Wednesday, the day after closing on this property, to take paperwork to Spirit Bank to begin seeking the loan on our own building purchase of an old church site in the old historic business district of the Turley area. Important not only as history in our area, and a much needed way to expand and grow our presence and get us closer to school traffic and others in our service area, but it is a justice action in our area each time we are able to take and transform such a large abandoned building and turn it into a vibrant place for community. Keeping and turning over dollars into our own community so much in need of that very thing.

I am a very reluctant owner of any property or building, in general, as it often in some communities turns into an "edifice complex" and impedes the mission or becomes the mission; but this is good for the community, taking an abandoned building and actually using it in service to the community, helping to revitalize an abandoned areas itself. Many times even churches come into our area and use our buildings and then move on when they "outgrow" them. In contrast, we want the community to "outgrow" us. So this will become Miracle Among The Ruins, version 2.

2. Plus we have the purchase of the green space and bird sanctuary and children's safety space project along 61st St. between the school and the mobile home park and OBrien Park that we can now begin moving to get, especially partnering with local nature socieities such as Audubon and others. This area is an unsafe but travelled area for children, and another opportunity to create a place of peace and nature sanctuary in our area.

3. We are helping to take the lead on a rural economic grant and a Safe Routes to School partnership federal grant project with Cherokee School and INCOG and we hope the State Dept. of Transportation. Our currently developing project for sidewalks and lights, bike path and beautification around Cherokee School will not only provide more safety for students, but will be better for small struggling businesses nearby. We will work to slow traffic down, making it more like what it used to be decades ago, a microcommunity or small town downtown, hoping to use it as a draw to also attract new businesses to the renovated area.

4. We are working with McLain High School on its transformation, joining with its new school and community foundation, supporting its magnet programs, helping to promote the good changes academically that have been happening there. Growing our partnerships with the schools that prepare students for McLain as well. Looking for ways to help parents help students, to help students who have dropped out, by partnering with the library, schools and others. Stay tuned for programs emerging here in these and many other educational fronts.

5. We are helping shape a major new health care delivery initiative with OU for lay health advisors in neighborhoods, a project that if you saw writer Janet Pearsons editorial in Sundays Tulsa World you can see will be part of a national reform movement, all beginning here. We are working to support on one end the new specialty clinic in north Tulsa by OU, and on the preventive end to create a network of paid lay health advisors, people who live in the underserved and unhealthy areas, who can both help their neighbors with health concerns but who can also teach the care providers about the on the ground issues problems and realities of the communities and the lives of those receiving care. By taking health care out of a centralized location and a one size fits all way of providing and paying for care, the traditional clinic, we begin to turn inside out the way health is grown.

6. Growing our "day to day" miracles among the ruins by what happens at the Center, clinic, library, donation room, computer area, meetingspace, food pantry, and with our projects at the schools and other places. The second, third, and fourth weekends of September and the first weekend of October we will be engaged in hands on community renewal work, and partnering with social work students to help our Center better fulfill our world-changing mission "to create beloved community" through our small acts of justice...Next month we will be doing community work with social work students and residents on the second, third, and fourth Saturdays on beautification and renewal projects at Greeley School and other places in our area. See the calendar of events elsewhere on the website. Also know We are making a focus this year as well on diversity and respect of cultures, and on veterans, and on volunteers. Stay tuned.

You all are making such a difference in the world, just by sharing this with others, by coming and helping, coming and participating, and it is a joy to behold what may come in the next three years based on what all has happened in these, our first three years. Thanks again.

Ron Robinson, Executive Director, A Third Place Community Foundation


Welcome To our "TNT" TulsaNorth/Turley Area, to the Miracle Among The Ruins, see the videos, read the stories, explore below, Donate above

Help Us Reach our Final Fundraising Goal. Just a few thousand to go, just a few days left. See the OU Graduate Design Studio vision of what the blighted abandoned houses and property can look like at Or see the moving video by the OU social work students when they worked out here last summer at Read all about it at

Come This Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm and see for yourself, take the Four Directions Initiative Tour with us and a class from OU Graduate Social Work, be inspired, see and hear the problems but also see the vision and the seeds being sown. Or work with us at Cherokee School.

Read The Latest Tulsa World Story About Our Community. Read posts below for much more on this and other projects


TulsaNorth/Turley Food Statistics: Why We Need The Miracle Among The Ruins Welcome Table GardenKitchenPark

Back to the basics of why we do what we do...According to a survey of our service area residents living in our zipcodes, which we partnered last summer to do with the OU Graduate Social Work Department, and are now publishing the results of....

...55 percent worry about the amount of food they have
...6 percent use spoiled food
...29 percent use a food pantry
...31 percent receive food from church
...35 percent borrow food from family
...25 percent borrow food from friends
...25 percent adults skip entire day from eating
...29 percent adults skip meals
...26 percent did not eat and are hungry at time of survey
...43 percent eat less than they should
...60 percent eat low cost foods
...52 percent cannot afford nutritious meals
...57 percent run out of food
...60 percent cannot afford healthy food

The Food Environment:
...29 percent have no affordable source of food in community
...63 percent know about a food pantry
,..56 percent rate the food quality in Turley area as fair or poor
...59 percent indicate food in Turley area expensive or very expensive relative to budget

Overall Health:
...56 percent not currently healthy
...41 percent health is fair or poor
...54 percent are overweight
...66 percent should weigh less
...47 percent smoke or use other tobacco

Nothing too surprising, of course, but sometimes the statistics are needed to make especially visible and in our face what we know from our anecdotal experience.

While it is true in our short life as a community within our community we have begun to provide a food pantry, offer meals, a one morning a week health clinic, a daily summer feeding program, beginning community gardens and orchard, classes and workshops on nutrition, providing community health and food resource information, and more, it is all a small drop in the bucket compared to what we can effect physicially, psychologically, spiritually, with the creation of the planned The Welcome Table Community Garden Kitchen Greenspace Park where we can raise from the ground up, from the grassroots, a major project to change our landscape, to bring people together to grow their own healthy food, saving money and saving lives, teaching how to grow and how to cook and how to eat healthy right here in our neighborhood in a fun park environment we will make in a place with a great view of Tulsa downtown and Tulsa county stretching out to Bird Creek bottomland in one direction and Turley Hill in the other. See the other posts here for all the vision and details and our Aug. 31 fundraising deadline. See the donate button above. Safe and easy and you don't have to have a paypal account to use the online giving form. Or send checks of support made out to A Third Place Community Foundation to us at 6514 N. Peoria Ave. Turley or Tulsa OK 74126.

We don't wait for a governmental agency to come in from the outside, with employees who don't live in our area providing services to us in our area, to do this; we don't wait for the perfect time and perfect economic climate to do this; at a time when everyone is cutting back, here where things have been cut back for years, we come together to start something new, something with a safe environment in the midst of an area others seek to make unsafe or to stigmatize and stereotype; here on the ground in solidarity with supporters in other places, we can dream big again, and make them real, one block at a time, modelling and inspiring others in their areas.

We have these past three years created an indoors A Third Place Center, from which we have created small projects elsewhere across our area; now we are moving toward creating the gardenkitchenpark as an outdoors A Third Place Center, where even bigger dreams will be dreamed and connections made to pull them off too.

We can over time, and by changing the culture from the grassroots, turn those statistics on food and health and justice around; they have not always been true of us living here; they don't have to be true for us and our children in the future. Perhaps there is no one miracle cure for these social and political and personal problems underlying the statistics, as I believe there is not, but I know the Miracle Among The Ruins transformation is one miracle that will make a difference.


Images At A Third Place

More on the way the rest of the week....


Coming "TNT" Events: Tulsa North/Turley. Don't Miss Them.

All are welcome. All are needed. Let us know of events to add. Let us know of events you would like to see. Come and help us plan how to make these events better and reach more people. Pass this on so others will have the same opportunity to be a part of community. More details coming, and reports afterwards, on these events.

OU Community Medicine Clinic Friday mornings. A Third Place. 619-4400 appts.

Area Leadership Council meeting, third Friday, Aug. 20, 2:30 pm, A Third Place.

Monthly McLain High School Initiative, third Fridays, 4 pm., Aug. 20, McLain.

Diversity Monthly Free Movie Night, Aug. 26, 6:30 pm, “Iron Jawed Angels” A Third Place. About the tremendous struggle for women's right to vote, on the day the nineteenth amendment was signed and Women's Rights Day was begun.

OU-“TNT” Tulsa North/Turley community service day, Sat. Aug. 28, 9am-3pm, A Third Place and out in community. Graduate Social Work Dept.

Garden Art and Community Gardening Day, Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria, Sat. Aug. 28, 8 am to Noon. Every School a Garden, Every Child a Gardener Program.

Turley Community Association, 7 pm, Tues Aug. 31, O’Brien Center, 6147 N. Lewis.
Community Coalitions Meeting with State Rep. Seneca Scott, Friday, Sept. 3, 5:30 pm TCC Northeast Campus, Apache and Harvard

Arts and Crafts Gathering, Tuesday Sept. 7, 6:30 pm, A Third Place. Free. Bring Projects or Interests.

OU-TNT Day, community projects, A Third Place, Sept. 11, 9 am to 3 pm.

Fundraising Lunch and Music for the Community Center at noon. Also OU-TNT projects Sept. 28 with Heritage Lunch at noon.

North Tulsa Coalitions meeting, Sept. 14 11 am Tulsa Job Corps on North Lewis.

Diversity Movie Month Free, Sept. 14, 6:30 pm A Third Place: Hispanic Community Focus

Weekly 12 Step Recovery Group, 7:30 pm Saturday, A Third Place

Weekly Thursday, 7 pm, Fire Department Meetings, Turley, 6404 N. Peoria

Last working day of month, 8:30 am Turley Water Board Public Meeting, 6108 N. Peoria

Sundays Weekly 10 am Church at A Third Place Worship, Rev. Ron Robinson

Much More To Come...

“Small Acts of Justice Done With Great Love Change The World”


Community Invite To Garden Party at Cherokee Saturdays Aug. 14 and 28, 8 to 10 am

Full details at the wonderful new blog you can follow at

Come help us this Saturday Aug. 14 from 8 to 10 am as we build a Vegetable Garden Playhouse Hut at Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria Ave., using cattle panels. It will be located in the vegetable garden area in the back or east side of the building off Quincy Ave. If you can't make it this Saturday morning (great place to come after being an early bird at farmers market), pass on the invitation to others who might like to help this school get ready to greet the students on their return.

Then, on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 8 to 10 am the focus at the school garden will be Garden Art. Bring broken items from homes and they will be made into mosaics, sculptures, etc. for placement in the gardens around the school. Come see the transformation that began with the big garden day last September.

On this day Aug. 28 we will also be working in the community with a new crop of OU graduate social work students, giving them a tour of our service area in Tulsa North and Turley. If you'd would like to join in the tour and learn about our "Four Directions Initiative" and learn more about the history of the area, its changes, and plans for its future feel free; the general public will be invited.

What we did last year with the big Garden Transformation Event at Cherokee in September, we are hoping to do again this year at Horace Greeley Elementary School at North Cincinnati and 63rd St. Tentative date is Sat. Sept. 18; more information will be coming.

For more on Every School a Garden and Every Child a Gardener and the plans for these events go to

Thanks,hope to see you there


Miracle Among The Ruins Needs You: Link of Links

Pass this post on to others, church and youth and service groups; help us give the children here the Miracle Among the Ruins; we are $3,000 short of our goal and our deadline is Aug. 31. Donate safely and easily at the button above. See the links below for more.

See the plans and the links to all the links about the property and what it looks like now for kids at

The Channel Six news story is at

For the OU social work students moving video about the place and the need for the project and for your donations, go to .

For the OU Design Studio on what it will look like go to

For the background on why we are doing this community transformation project here go to and to

For the bigger connect the dots link on how we have plans for all of our Four Directions area of Tulsa North and Turley go to

And after you donate share it with someone who will donate. Don't wait. Every little bit goes a long way here. Surprise yourself and the world. Just as our Miracle Among the Ruin will surprise the children who will see it rise where ruins were before, all around them.


Just a Bit Of What Our Children Will See On Way To School on N. Peoria: See below for helping us change this.

Pass this post on to others. Children shouldn't be walking through these or past these, and these don't cover all the areas near us. Just a few of the photos of trash or abandoned houses with overgrown weeds creating risky unsafe environments. It is why we are doing the community gardening and beautification at the school itself, and why we are raising funds for the Miracle Among The Ruins project. Come to Cherokee 6001 N. Peoria on Saturdays Aug. 14 and 28 in the mornings to help beautify; pass on to others, church and youth and service groups; also help us give the children something different to walk past; help us give them the Miracle Among the Ruins; we are $3,000 short of our goal and our deadline is Aug. 31. Donate safely and easily at the button above.

See the plans and the links to all the links about the property and what it looks like now for kids at

The Channel Six news story is at

For the OU social work students moving video about the place and the need for the project and for your donations, go to .

For the OU Design Studio on what it will look like go to

For the background on why we are doing this community transformation project here go to and to

For the bigger connect the dots link on how we have plans for all of our Four Directions area of Tulsa North and Turley go to

And after you donate share it with someone who will donate. Don't wait. Every little bit goes a long way here. Surprise yourself and the world. Just as our Miracle Among the Ruin will surprise the children who will see it rise where ruins were before, all around them.


Party Among The Ruins Wednesday July 28 7 pm at Community Garden Site 6025 N. Johnstown

Your Invitation, and Please Invite Others

What: "Party Among The Ruins"
Make real the Miracle Among the Ruins project to turn a block of abandoned properties here in TulsaNorth/Turley into The Welcome Table Community Kitchen Garden Park. Come tour the proposed site and area and discuss the plans; even consider ways you might replicate such a project in your own part of town if you live elsewhere. See the video produced by the OU Graduate Design Studio of what it can look like and be even as we are partying amid what it is now. Beverages and ice cream social and watermelon and refreshments provided for freewill donations. Beat the heat with a water balloon fight. Listen to music. Meet others committed to community renewal, health, food justice, one block at a time.

When: Wednesday, July 28, 7 to 9 pm. We have a July 30 deadline to finish raising the funds to buy the property. Come celebrate and let us say thanks for all your donations. Bring friends who haven't donated yet, or take this opportunity to have fun and bring your own donation, or in the spirit of generosity and abundance give again if you have donated already. Surprise yourself as we surprise our community, so often seen as powerless and struggling and stereotyped, with this venture so needed here, and now.

Where: 6025 N. Johnstown Ave., between Peoria and Cincinnati, due west up the hill from Cherokee School. Enter the property off Johnstown. Park along the street or in the parking lot across the street at the nearby Methodist Church. This hilltop neighborhood has outstanding views of downtown Tulsa and out east toward the horizon of the Bird Creek bottomland; to the north rises Turley Hill. The party will take place in the center of the property on abandoned foundations between run down buildings. You will also get a chance to see the infamous resident-made walking trail people use going to school and stores on foot, some of the area we have raised a few experimental gardens already, and walk the paths in a native grass and plant area. Also tour our A Third Place Community Center at 6514 N. Peoria Ave. while you are in the area.

How: Just come, or if you can help by donating beverages or refreshments such as ice cream for an ice cream social part of the event; or come help fill up water balloons for those who want to "stay cool",. We are a grassroots group and we like our events to grow from the grassroots as well.

RSVP and also pass this invitation on by email, in announcements at church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or your civic group this weekend, pass it through social networking sites, to family, friends, colleagues and coworkers.

In case of rain, say a prayer of thanks and a halleluia and come drive by the area and stop for the Party at A Third Place Center, 6514 N. Peoria where we will move the event. If you haven't seen our unique approach to community renewal, this is a great time to visit, and to bring others who might not have been here yet. In fact, this past few weeks talking with medical students, we found out again that many of them have grown up in Tulsa but never been to the northside or been this far into the northside. If you know of anyone like that, use this opportunity to expand their horizons.

And be one of the folks who push us over our fundraising goal to purchase this property. We can't do it with just you alone (unless of course you can donate or arrange for a donation of $7,000), but we also can't do it without you. And we mean that. True, we have a ways to go still and a short amount of time to do it in, but we wouldn't call it a "miracle among the ruins" if it had been easy to do. We do have a commitment from Tulsa County to remove and clear the property for us once we purchase it, and we have volunteers ready to transform it; all we need is to own the land. Find out all the wonderful plans and donate now at or send checks made out to A Third Place Community Foundation at 6514 N. Peoria Ave, Turley, OK 74126.

At the website for A Third Place Community you will also see the multitude of other ways we are giving back to our neighborhoods in our area between 46th St. N. and 86th St. N. and Highway 75 and Osage County Line. All of these need support. The Miracle Among The Ruins project is a vital one for us here in the zipcode of Tulsa with the lowest life expectancy and a fourteen year gap between us and mid town just a few miles away, but the kitchengarden project is part of a bigger picture connecting the dots in what we call "The Four Directions Initiative" for TulsaNorth/Turley; a true "TNT" vision explosion for renewal.

Thanks and blessings and see you for a "party among the ruins." Don't forget to share this with all others.

Ron Robinson
430-1150 home; 6913223 cell, 7944637 office
A Third Place Community, a 501c3 grassroots, 100 percent into mission, neighborhood movement
"Small acts of justice done with great love change the world."