|the special leadership of faith-based communities|
The following material is excerpted with written permission from How Smart Growth Can Stop Sprawl, a briefing guide for funders by David Bollier. (Washington, D.C.:Essential Books), 1998.
Interestingly, faith-based religious communities have been one of the most active forces helping to organize new regional coalitions. In Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, St. Louis and other cities, ecumenical groups have convened people from throughout the metro area, including the affluent suburbs, to shine a light on regional polarization and the legislative remedies being proposed.
State Senator Myron Orfield describes how the Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition for Affordable Housing "had an enormously positive impact on the tone of the [affordable housing] hearings, which became much less nasty and more substantive"1 after priests, ministers, rabbis and other clerics testified before packed auditoriums.
Organizing faith communities to mobilize metropolitan coalitions is the singular priority of a new project, the American Metropolitan Equities Network (AMEN), with backing from the Gamaliel Foundation. The project has four fronts: organizational development, sophisticated regional issue strategies, massive public events and multi-state action on national issues. Although still in its early stages, the AMEN project hopes to harness the moral leadership of the faith community in the cause of regional equity and smart growth.
In a political environment that frequently seems paralyzed by cynicism and stalemate, religious groups can play a transforming role by staking out a higher moral ground, convening diverse political constituencies who might not otherwise come together, and bearing witness to a better, more idealistic vision of what metro regions could become.
Chicago Theological Initiative for Eco-Justice
Ministry, Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations: Sprawl and Sustainability
Diocese of Cleveland: The Church and the City
-- Sprawl and the "SHARE" team
United Synagogue Youth, B'nai Brith Youth,
Akron Jewish Day Schools, and Akron Jewish Community Center: Urban Land
Archdiocese of Hartford: Anti-Sprawl Initiatives
The Fillmore Gospel Garden, Dioceses of San
Francisco, CA: Urban/Suburban/Rural Student Partnership for the Environment
1 Myron Orfield, Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997).