Are you ready for an urban future?
— Tom Sine —
By 2030 nearly 5 billion of us will live in cities. In fact the future of the next generation who live on this planet are likely to be urban dwellers according to Charles Montgomery in “The Secret Of the World’s Happiest Cities.” In the Guardian November 1, 2013.
After World War II Americans were offered two new social inventions that we uncritically embraced with few questions, and almost no discussion. We embraced the invention of age-segregated suburban living for young families and age-segregated retirement for our older citizens. More than that, we were informed that this was the “good life” that we always wanted for ourselves and those we loved.
During the 60s 70s and 80s I watch many white families leaving urban communities and congregations. They did this not only secure the “good life” in the suburbs, but also to secure the “safe life” that middle-class migrants believed could not be found in our cities. That regrettable white flight not only created more segregated America, it also fundamentally undermined the funding of public schools and services for those who were left behind.
Thankfully, a new generation of millennials not only aren’t afraid of the city. Many of them welcome the opportunity to live in a richly multicultural environment with all the richness of the arts, neighborhood celebrations, and relationships with friends from a rich array of cultural and national backgrounds.
Believe it or not, not just these young millennials, but people from all generations and cultures, are finding a good life in the cities that simply wasn’t possible in the suburbs. In the article” The Secrets of the World’s Happiest Cities” the research shows that urbanites who do long commutes are significantly less happy than many of their urban neighbors.
The research shows quite simply that the longer you drive, the unhappier you are. People who live in car dependent neighborhoods are also unhappier than people in the cities. Young millennials are discovering what many urban dwellers have known for decades, people are much happier when they are able to walk to their shops and community gathering places and have closer daily contact with their neighbors.
In other words people that walk, bike and use public transportation in our cities are enjoying life more than many of their neighbors who bought the suburban dream with long commutes.
“I’ll never forget the first time Paul Sparks gave me a tour of Zoe Livable Church.” Writes Brandon Rhodes in an article entitled “Long Obedience in the Same Downtown“. He showed me community gardens, copy shops, a bakery, holistic health Center, nonprofit offices, and intentional community, miracles galore, and an expansive library. He told me about Zoe organizing farmers markets, block parties, and yarn bombings.”
Paul and Liz Sparks have not only chosen to live in downtown Tacoma Washington but to start a very unusual congregation. Their small community of 25 meets weekly for worship like most congregations. What makes it different from many of our churches, wherever they are located, is that their focus is primarily on their neighborhood not their small gathered group.
Zoe has started eight small businesses to provide services and jobs to their neighbors. They hold an annual downtown block party not only did bring people must downtown urban community together to create stronger mutual care networks. Check it out on the Parish Collective website and on Facebook.
Quite simply, they see their mission as collaborating with their neighbors in downtown Tacoma to create the good life together for everyone that is there. Frankly I find this more appealing than watching Christian friends escaping from urban communities to the imaginary safety and good life of suburban living.
As we rapidly race not only into a new urban future, but a new majority future, isn’t it time for people of faith to start asking, “what is the good life that we want not only for our kids, but for all of the kids who are going to try to get their lives started in the challenging 2020’s 2030’s?”
Are you ready for an urban future, or at least the future in which we start creating the good life of God with our neighbors?
Please write me today and give me your direct response.