East Valley Tribune

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  • ‘An Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra’ raises questions about technology and art

    While learning to play an instrument fosters the arts, it also teaches children valuable lessons about hard work and the importance of practice. But children everywhere are losing access to basic music classes in school. If music education isn’t a priority at home, and if parents can’t afford private lessons, what will become the source for music education?The world around us is changing. We live in a time where music and media are instantly accessible. With a click of a button you can have an entire album at your disposal. Technology has forever changed the way music is transmitted, understood and received.Visual artist Julie Comnick has created a hauntingly beautiful exhibition entitled “An Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra,” which discusses the relationship between technology and art, and the loss of cultural traditions in the modern world. I recently spoke with her about the inspiration and meaning behind her work. “The questions this project raises about the relationship between increasing technology and its impact on cultural heritage pertain across art disciplines, including music: What is the result of reduced funding for the arts in education? In a nanosecond culture, what becomes of practice?”The violin is the centerpiece of Comnick’s exhibition, and she has a deep connection with the instrument. Comnick grew up playing the violin, but slowly began to leave it behind in high school, and permanently in college when music classes were unavailable.After collecting irreparable violins from around the nation, Comnick set them aflame. While you may be thinking her approach is harsh, she believes burning was the best method to get her message across. “A pile of violins is to an orchestra as a pile of kindling is to a fire; burning evokes the history of the practice of symbolic burning, and encourages the viewer to contemplate its intention.” Historically the burning of books, flags or draft cards made a statement and carried a message beyond the act itself. This is no different for Comnick’s project.But music isn’t to be lamented. There is always a hope that it will hold value and evolve in new ways. As an adult, she returned to the violin and the exhibition features her own performance.

  • Gilbert group raising funds for microfinance project in Africa

    Charity isn’t just about the sweeping gestures, the $10,000 checks donated to a good cause via a well-regarded philanthropist. Charity encompasses smaller donations, those $5, $10, $20 gifts that tend to add up to large amounts quickly. Charity isn’t about an unreciprocated donation either; a small loan can provide an enormous boost to a fledgling businesses.That’s the gist of what microfinancing is, and it outlines what Oasis Microfinance International is working to do for people in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.The Gilbert-based, nonprofit charity Oasis Microfinance International is working to support the creation of what founder Frackson Sakala said is akin to a bank for the poor using a revolving fund — a pool of money that refills itself when people repay the loans they take out. That, in essence, would ensure the money doesn’t dry out and allows the organization to provide funding to a multitude of people — aspiring businesswomen are a focal point for the organization — who might not qualify for a larger loan.“That’s our goal, to make sure the poor are able to access funds even without collateral,” Sakala said.The model is pretty safe for both the investors and the people borrowing the funds due to the minimal investment made on both ends; the lender isn’t contributing that much funding, while the recipient, who works with four or five people to take out the loan, doesn’t have a sizable dollar amount hanging over his or her head.Sakala said the other benefit is the assistance Oasis Microfinance International will provide to people who receive a loan. Along with the funding is a one-week training session offering lessons on business planning and bookkeeping, along with technical support.

  • Chandler resident decorates for children, Hanukkah

    Wesley Hoekstra always likes to decorate for the holidays. His wife Alice will tell you that.But this year, after moving to Chandler from Chicago six months ago, they did something a little extra.“My husband was always out putting up decorations for the holidays,” Alice said. “He included veterans, family members, anybody you could think of.”But, while he always decorated for Christmas, the one holiday he didn’t necessarily decorate for was Hanukkah.That was until he overheard 6-year-old Aaron Goard, who lives down the street, talking to his mother.Hoekstra said he heard Goard tell his mother: “Mom, do they celebrate Hanukkah?”

  • Chandler program offers education about native fauna

    The desert and all its wildlife find themselves mixed into the Chandler city life. That’s why the Environmental Education Center at Veterans Oasis Park works to educate people on the animals they may come across.Recreation Coordinators Michael Ballard and Daniella Rodriguez, of the Environmental Education Center in Chandler, want to make sure residents and visitors are aware of what animals make their home there and know where they can go to enjoy the animals as they live in their natural habitats. With 117 species of birds, coyotes, jackrabbits and cottontails, gophers and reptiles making their homes in the 113-acre park, the center has on their doorstep an opportunity to provide the public with firsthand experience about how animals behave in the wild.Originally designed to be a site for water distribution to use at a recharge facility, Veterans Oasis Park ended up as an education center, a wildlife preserve and a location for a Chandler Police Department substation. While water distribution had the place blocked off, it decided it would be a great place for something like the Gilbert Riparian instead of only having recharge basins, Ballard explained.“This park is a really neat example of city cooperation and partnership,” said Ballard. “Three different divisions within the city worked together to make it what it is today.”What to see at Veterans Oasis ParkVeterans Oasis serves as a park, fishing spot and wildlife preserve. Part of the park is kept well trimmed and clean for visitors who would like to enjoy picnics, games and nice walks around the lake. The rest is more of a preserve and is left to grow as it would in nature, and groundskeepers only trim when the brush begins to cover the paths. In this area, visitors are able to see the animals in their natural habitat.

  • Martial arts training facility opens in Mesa

    There’s a new kind of workout available in Mesa, for those who think they are up to the task. Fans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest promoter of the sport of mixed martial arts, will recognize immediately the brand name association of UFC Gym Mesa, on the corner of South Ellsworth and East Broadway roads.“It’s the way that we train,” assistant manager Tisha Byers said. “We train different.”Partnered with New Evolution Ventures, a fitness brand developer, the UFC is expanding its brand to bring MMA-style training to everyone. The gym rebranded from LA Boxing in 2012 and has been going strong ever since.“It’s a great vibration,” trainer Ty Upshur said. “It’s a family atmosphere. It’s a great place where the parents can come and work out and the kids can work out. Not only that but we produce professional fighters here.”Beginners can train in boxing, kickboxing and MMA, while advanced students can train in all of that as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing originating in Thailand. The gym also offers youth training, versions of most classes scaled for younger athletes.“It all depends on the person, on what their main interest is,” Upshur said. “As the trainers, we recognize that. It really does depend on the individual.”

  • Pearson in Chandler seeks kid input to make technology better

    When it comes to designing an app to help kids learn, there may not be a better group of product developers than kids themselves.That is exactly what learning company Pearson is doing at its Chandler location. There, Pearson has assembled a group of eight second- through seventh-grade kids as part of a KidsTeam to help design an early-literacy mobile app to help pre-kindergarten children learn new words.KidsTeam was developed based on research from the University of Maryland and the principle behind KidsTeam is that adults and kids work together to develop ideas that can be used to develop learning systems.“Traditionally, when you’re doing research with kids, generally, adults sit behind the glass wall and they stare and they observe and they say, ‘Ooh looks what’s going on.’ But this is not (that),” said Allison Druin, chief futurist at the University of Maryland. “This is about having the adults and the kids talk as much (to) each other, and to really have adults think better because kids are in the room and have kids think better because adults are in the room. So it’s that creative process together.”Once per week in the afternoons at Pearson, the kids come together to try and help develop ideas to make the app as kid-friendly as possible.What the kids do is develop an idea, then they have adults expand on that idea, working together in a process called cooperative inquiry.

  • Presidential impersonator Jay Pharoah in Phoenix

    The comedian widely known for his spot-on impressions of President Barack Obama, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Kanye West, as well as recurring character, school principal Daniel Frye, performs live.DETAILS >> Multiple shows Dec. 31 through Jan. 3. Stand Up Live, 50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix. $22-$52.96. A two-drink minimum is required. (480) 719-6100 or StandUpLive.com.

  • Christmas Arizona-style

    You might call us quirky, you might call us strange; here in Arizona, we do Christmas our own special way. The Grinch and his minions jumping off buildings and shootin’ it up in an Old West gunfight — check! A snow week that includes liquid nitrogen explosions and a ping-pong ball snowstorm — double check! A week of fun in the sun with no work to be done — yes, please!Ok, ok, that one’s a stretch; but there are plenty of ways to spend time between Christmas and New Year’s with family and friends, including Arizona Science Center’s Snow Week Dec. 26-Jan. 1 (AzScience.org), which features 30 tons of snow and a variety of daily activities, or Holidays at the Heard Museum Dec. 26-31 (Heard.org/event/holidays), where you’ll enjoy hot fry bread, art demos and live dance performances at an award-winning museum dedicated to the art, culture and history of American Indians. And if these don’t fit the bill, just flip through this edition for more fun ideas.

  • ‘An Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra’ raises questions about technology and art

    While learning to play an instrument fosters the arts, it also teaches children valuable lessons about hard work and the importance of practice. But children everywhere are losing access to basic music classes in school. If music education isn’t a priority at home, and if parents can’t afford private lessons, what will become the source for music education?The world around us is changing. We live in a time where music and media are instantly accessible. With a click of a button you can have an entire album at your disposal. Technology has forever changed the way music is transmitted, understood and received.Visual artist Julie Comnick has created a hauntingly beautiful exhibition entitled “An Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra,” which discusses the relationship between technology and art, and the loss of cultural traditions in the modern world. I recently spoke with her about the inspiration and meaning behind her work. “The questions this project raises about the relationship between increasing technology and its impact on cultural heritage pertain across art disciplines, including music: What is the result of reduced funding for the arts in education? In a nanosecond culture, what becomes of practice?”The violin is the centerpiece of Comnick’s exhibition, and she has a deep connection with the instrument. Comnick grew up playing the violin, but slowly began to leave it behind in high school, and permanently in college when music classes were unavailable.After collecting irreparable violins from around the nation, Comnick set them aflame. While you may be thinking her approach is harsh, she believes burning was the best method to get her message across. “A pile of violins is to an orchestra as a pile of kindling is to a fire; burning evokes the history of the practice of symbolic burning, and encourages the viewer to contemplate its intention.” Historically the burning of books, flags or draft cards made a statement and carried a message beyond the act itself. This is no different for Comnick’s project.But music isn’t to be lamented. There is always a hope that it will hold value and evolve in new ways. As an adult, she returned to the violin and the exhibition features her own performance.

  • Getting your ring on: Things to do New Year’s Eve in Phoenix

    The time has come to bid farewell to 2014 and welcome in the new year! We’ve rounded up the things to do on New Year’s Eve in Phoenix:For FamiliesYote’s Family New Year’s Eve Party at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort7677 N. 16th St., PhoenixBring your family to Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort to celebrate 2015 year. Enjoy dinner for up to four people, lots of activities, arts and crafts, dancing and plenty of family fun. End the evening watching the ball drop at 10 p.m. with a sparkling cider toast. SquawPeakHilton.com.Noon Year’s Eve at the Phoenix Zoo

  • Last call for some Christmas sparkle

    One of our favorite things to do during the holidays is to get the kids in their jammies, grab some hot chocolate and drive around our area “oohing and aahing” at lights. Most of the displays are open through Jan. 1, so, if you haven’t yet, you still have time to take a tour of the best Christmas light displays. Here are our favorites:ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo455 N. Galvin ParkwayWith 3.8 million lights strung throughout the Phoenix Zoo, this is one display not to be missed. One of our favorite spots is the dancing trees, and the kids love Jengo the talking giraffe. Kids can also enjoy the carousel, camel rides, wagon rides and some of the animals that are still out and about at night. ZooLights is open 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly through Jan. 11. General admission tickets are $16-$18 and $14-$16 for members. Children 2 and younger are free. More information is available at PhoenixZoo.orgPollack Tempe Cinema Shopping Center1825 E. Elliot Road, Tempe

  • Rawhide Snowy Christmas

    Rawhide's Snowy Christmas in Chandler on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.

Tech Data Doctors Deals

  • Tick-tock: Tips for last-minute shoppers

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The clock is ticking, and your holiday shopping list isn't complete. Don't fret — you aren't alone. The National Retail Federation found that only about half of shoppers had finished shopping as of Dec. 10. That means tens of millions will be ticking those final items off their lists in the coming days. But procrastination doesn't have to mean desperation. Here are a few tips to help survive last-minute shopping: —SEIZE THE DAY: Retailers know the rush is coming, and they are doing everything they can to attract last-minute shoppers. This includes extended shopping hours, expedited shipping and exclusive promotions. That opens up lots of strategies for shopping that will keep you out of the crazy lines in stores at noon on Christmas Eve. One tactic is to become a night owl. Many retailers are open longer in the week before Christmas. For example, Wal-Mart says its stores are open 24 hours a day up until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve and it is offering shipping options up until Dec. 23. Toys R Us stores are open around the clock from the morning of Dec. 23 through 9 p.m. Christmas Eve; it also is extending its hours in the days preceding. And many retailers, such as Best Buy, allow shoppers to find an item online and pick it up at a store. Even 7-Eleven is targeting shoppers, offering gift cards, toys and stocking stuffers in its stores. The bottom line: Take advantage of those last-minute discounts and other deals. — DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market researcher NPD Group, says many people do not yet know what they want to give, or get. "These consumers are the ones who put themselves in a stressful situation," he said. "The one saving grace is online (shopping) is a chance for a lot of people to do their homework." He said shoppers can narrow down their options ahead of time by looking online. You can also check Amazon.com to see if the person has a wish list you didn't know about, or study Facebook or Pinterest pages for ideas. Such prep work can save a lot of headaches and potentially limit last-minute impulse purchases that can prove costly. — WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES: Seriously, this is a common-sense step many shoppers skip. "Wear comfortable shoes for goodness sake," Cohen said. "It (shopping) is exercise and it's not very comfortable." Don't waste time cruising to find the closest spot to the store either, he said. Those comfortable shoes will make it easier to just park and walk.

  • Let Joe Know: Read the fine print before booking your next airline flight

    Are you traveling over the next couple of weeks?If so, have you thought about what happens if the airline overbooks or your flight is canceled?Linda Tableman learned firsthand.“It was raining really hard when we got to the airport and they told us the flight would be delayed,” Tableman said.She said the flight was delayed two and a half hours, and that forced her to miss a connecting flight back to Phoenix. And she says the only flight offered by the airline to get home, was three days later!“That’s a lot to ask for a person, people work, have lives, family,” Tableman said.

  • Martial arts training facility opens in Mesa

    There’s a new kind of workout available in Mesa, for those who think they are up to the task. Fans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest promoter of the sport of mixed martial arts, will recognize immediately the brand name association of UFC Gym Mesa, on the corner of South Ellsworth and East Broadway roads.“It’s the way that we train,” assistant manager Tisha Byers said. “We train different.”Partnered with New Evolution Ventures, a fitness brand developer, the UFC is expanding its brand to bring MMA-style training to everyone. The gym rebranded from LA Boxing in 2012 and has been going strong ever since.“It’s a great vibration,” trainer Ty Upshur said. “It’s a family atmosphere. It’s a great place where the parents can come and work out and the kids can work out. Not only that but we produce professional fighters here.”Beginners can train in boxing, kickboxing and MMA, while advanced students can train in all of that as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing originating in Thailand. The gym also offers youth training, versions of most classes scaled for younger athletes.“It all depends on the person, on what their main interest is,” Upshur said. “As the trainers, we recognize that. It really does depend on the individual.”

  • Pearson in Chandler seeks kid input to make technology better

    When it comes to designing an app to help kids learn, there may not be a better group of product developers than kids themselves.That is exactly what learning company Pearson is doing at its Chandler location. There, Pearson has assembled a group of eight second- through seventh-grade kids as part of a KidsTeam to help design an early-literacy mobile app to help pre-kindergarten children learn new words.KidsTeam was developed based on research from the University of Maryland and the principle behind KidsTeam is that adults and kids work together to develop ideas that can be used to develop learning systems.“Traditionally, when you’re doing research with kids, generally, adults sit behind the glass wall and they stare and they observe and they say, ‘Ooh looks what’s going on.’ But this is not (that),” said Allison Druin, chief futurist at the University of Maryland. “This is about having the adults and the kids talk as much (to) each other, and to really have adults think better because kids are in the room and have kids think better because adults are in the room. So it’s that creative process together.”Once per week in the afternoons at Pearson, the kids come together to try and help develop ideas to make the app as kid-friendly as possible.What the kids do is develop an idea, then they have adults expand on that idea, working together in a process called cooperative inquiry.

  • Bistro A’la Mode brings new menu style to Mesa

    There’s an exciting new eatery in north Mesa, where a bistro has opened in one wing of Stonebridge Manor, an event venue which has, for some time, been a local favorite for weddings and receptions.Bistro A’la Mode opened Dec. 2, serving lunch in a “revolving menu” style intended to keep an interesting, ever-changing menu.Owner Michael Mills said, after 17 years of weddings and other events, he felt there needed to be a good reason for folks to visit the stately property during the day time. Opening a small restaurant accomplished that goal perfectly.“It just occurred to me years ago that we are here all the time ... we should be doing something during the day,” Mills said.Mills had already started his own catering company to serve the location, Palm Street Culinary, so expanding to a bistro was as simple as setting up the area for food service, something the location was already primed for.Mills said he had always been inspired to open a sort of ice cream shop “A’la Mode” and so that idea carried over into the bistro, where he asked his chefs to make sure the main dishes would always have something beside or on top of them. Being a big fan of restaurants, he often returns to Stonebridge with ideas (bacon jam) that are faithfully translated to the menu in one form or another.

  • Chandler restaurant helps bring joy of toys

    Jolie’s Place is known for being a little Chandler eatery. But, just because it is little, doesn’t mean the restaurant can’t give back in a big way.Last year, as part of the Rockin’ For Kids event that helps donate toys to the Chandler Fire Health & Medical Department, Jolie’s Place donated roughly 400 toys. A solid number to be sure, but, this year, Jolie’s Place owner and manager Jolie Grant said it “blew it away,” collecting close to 600 toys.“We had no idea that it was going to be what it ended up being,” Grant said. “Obviously last year we had no idea. This year we thought, ‘I hope it’s as great as last year,’ and then to be even greater (than last year), it was borderline magical.”Jolie’s Place collected the toys as part of the Rockin’ for Kids event. Rockin’ for Kids is a concert where, instead of buying a ticket, patrons bring a toy to donate to the Chandler Fire, Health and Medical Department. A local band donated its time to come in and play for free.However, this year, Jolie’s place didn’t require a toy to get in to the event. Nonetheless, people donated anyway.“This year it was all just about karma,” Grant said. “We didn’t give out tickets or anything this year. People just brought toys because they wanted to.”

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  • Gilbert group raising funds for microfinance project in Africa

    Charity isn’t just about the sweeping gestures, the $10,000 checks donated to a good cause via a well-regarded philanthropist. Charity encompasses smaller donations, those $5, $10, $20 gifts that tend to add up to large amounts quickly. Charity isn’t about an unreciprocated donation either; a small loan can provide an enormous boost to a fledgling businesses.That’s the gist of what microfinancing is, and it outlines what Oasis Microfinance International is working to do for people in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.The Gilbert-based, nonprofit charity Oasis Microfinance International is working to support the creation of what founder Frackson Sakala said is akin to a bank for the poor using a revolving fund — a pool of money that refills itself when people repay the loans they take out. That, in essence, would ensure the money doesn’t dry out and allows the organization to provide funding to a multitude of people — aspiring businesswomen are a focal point for the organization — who might not qualify for a larger loan.“That’s our goal, to make sure the poor are able to access funds even without collateral,” Sakala said.The model is pretty safe for both the investors and the people borrowing the funds due to the minimal investment made on both ends; the lender isn’t contributing that much funding, while the recipient, who works with four or five people to take out the loan, doesn’t have a sizable dollar amount hanging over his or her head.Sakala said the other benefit is the assistance Oasis Microfinance International will provide to people who receive a loan. Along with the funding is a one-week training session offering lessons on business planning and bookkeeping, along with technical support.

  • WalletHub ranks Tempe as best major city for singles

    PHOENIX -- If you're single in Arizona, the best major city to live appears to be Tempe.And Peoria is the worst.That's the conclusion of WalletHub after looking at the things that make a community attractive to those without partners -- and perhaps looking for one.The new report looks at two sets of factors.One is strictly economics: What is the cost of romancing someone. That's measured by things like the price of a typical meal, the cost of a six-pack of Heinekens and taxi fare.Also factored in are the things to make someone date-worthy like the bill for the beauty salon and how much it costs to belong to a fitness club.

  • Boessling: First Christmas questions

    Have you ever been to a church Christmas program to see Mary and Joseph riding on a donkey, barn yard animals around the manger, a baby Jesus with no hint of crying, and wise men in the background, but you thought, “I wonder if that is really how the first Christmas scene looked?”My wife and I were in Scottsdale this week on a Christmas light tour in a double-decker bus. The bus stopped at a house where the owner had literally 50 different manger scenes in their garage. It was incredible. They had large ones, small ones, antiques and foreign made ones. By the way, all of you should drive up to visit that house (Checkout “Christmas Phoenix” on Facebook) to get in the Christmas mood. But as I pondered those amazing manger scenes, I wondered, is everything I see there described in the Bible? For the remainder of this column, I am going to pose questions to you about the first Christmas and then we will investigate what the Bible states to answer that question, letting the “text” of the Word of God speak for itself.1) How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?A) Camel, B) Donkey, C) Walked, D) CP30, E) Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey, F) Who knows?Now in our Sunday school programs, many times we have to play it out with B) or E) because to think of Mary as nine months pregnant walking over 70 miles from Nazareth through Jerusalem to Bethlehem, we just won’t have it. But the Bible actually never says anything about how they traveled. There is good reason contextually to think they might have used a donkey but all we have in Scripture is the purpose of their travels rather than a detailed description of the mode of transportation. The purpose of the trip was for Joseph to go back to town of his family, Bethlehem, to be counted in the census issued by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-5). Therefore, taking just the Bible into account, the answer is F) Who knows!2) What did the innkeeper say to Mary and Joseph?

  • Take me Home: Tessa’s charms are subtle, but irresistible

    Tessa, a 3-year-old sweet, gentle, affectionate gal, is happiest when spending time with her people. She has beautiful, bunny-soft fur that you just can’t keep from petting over and over again. That’s OK though — this type of behavior is encouraged by Tessa, considering she loves attention and loves to be petted. Tessa especially enjoys petting if it involves ear rubs, chest rubs, chin scratches, or all of the above. It is fun to watch how much she appreciates being pet. Don’t be surprised if Tessa climbs into your lap for cuddle time. She’s hoping to not only score additional petting, but brushing as well.She is a big time lap kitty and will come right over if you pat your lap and call to her. Of course, she’s totally OK with making herself at home in your lap without being explicitly invited. Tessa expresses contentment with soft purrs and occasional kitty kisses. If your lap suddenly becomes unavailable, Tessa is happy to retire to a high perch on the nearest kitty condo, where she is content to keep an eye on her surroundings. Tessa doesn’t really seem interested in toys — she’s much more interested in getting attention and affection from her people.Tessa doesn’t mind other calm, friendly kitties; however, she prefers observing kitties as opposed to interacting with kitties. People on the other hand, she adores — no observation there. Tessa not only makes a great snuggle buddy; she’d also be a great reading companion and would be happy to warm your lap as you watch your favorite movies and TV shows together. This mellow, laid-back kitty will do well in a variety of homes and is hoping you consider adding her to your home.If interested in learning more about Tessa, fill out an application for her today at www.azrescue.org.

  • Gilbert church provides carnival for sick children

    Life Community Church hosted a holiday event to entertain more than 100 kids with life-threatening illnesses.The Gilbert church’s Christmas Carnival had children arrive from across the state to celebrate the holiday with boat races, puzzles, dancing, face painting, golf, crafts, a snowball fight and a visit from Santa.

  • Keeping the Faith: Evacuate or evolve

    On Sundays you will usually find me in a church somewhere talking about issues of Christian faith. What I talk about, while the details change, is usually along the same theme: God’s love is inexhaustible and that love – demonstrated in Jesus – is the crux of our faith, not all the stuff that has been added to it. While my theme is fairly consistent, where I speak is not; and I don’t mean simply the location. I speak in churches that are conservative and those that are progressive; churches that are anchored to a denominational tradition and those as independent and free as the air; churches built of stone capped with spires, and those churches that meet behind the tinted glass of rented storefront space.The diversity of these experiences is magnificent. I see, almost weekly, that the church is a variegated garden of color and expression from Christians who meet in living rooms to those who meet in cathedrals – as it should be. Undoubtedly, some of these churches lack the marketing punch to attract today’s “church shopper.” This too, is as it should be.Not long ago I was in an inner-city church that had a shortage of the enticing ecclesiastical bells and whistles. There were no fog machines, Broadway-worthy children’s programs, shredded-blue-jean-wearing-worship-leader with an acoustic guitar, young-hip-spike-haired-pastor, and no in-house lattes, projection screens, or live Twitter feeds (I’m not against any of these things and particularly enjoy acoustic guitars and lattes).This church occupies a large, stately building that was once part of a large, stately neighborhood; a neighborhood filled with young, working, ladder-climbing families. Those families, rather monolithic in race and culture, have grown older and moved to the suburbs. This church is now the conglomeration of Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians – a reflection of its now multi-cultured surroundings.The church has made a very intentional decision to remain where it is, and not beat a hasty retreat to the suburbs where it is a bit easier for “hip” churches to gain traction and grow. Again, I’m not against cool, suburban churches; but in some cases these churches are transplants from the city, because transitioning with the neighborhood is simply too difficult.They move out and away from the communities in which they were incubated because they are now strangers in those communities. So it’s easier to raise the war pension required to purchase land and build new shiny buildings out by the new bypass and mall, than to do the excruciatingly difficult work of changing. Evacuation is sometimes just easier than evolution.

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