At innoFaith, one of our goals is to bridge faith communities to the social innovation ecosystem - the universe of non-profits, start-ups, education institutions, companies, government bodies, and others who are developing, studying, implementing new responses to persistent social problems. And vice versa. But for many in institutions and communities of faith, social innovation is a new term, even if not a new concept. … Both charity and advocacy approaches are essential to social change work, but what if there were a narrative that could free us from the limits of charity, on the one hand, and ideology, on the other? That is the potential of social innovation.
LinkedIn recently published 50 Big Ideas for 2019: What to watch in the year ahead. The list is full of interesting predictions regarding the economy, workforce, tech, leadership, and a couple on social movements. Underlying many of the predictions are issues of values, ethics, and inclusion. As society seeks better solutions to the challenges that confront us - climate change, the potential effects of artificial intelligence, inequality, political polarization, shifting workforce trends, and more - what role will faith communities and institutions play? And what would these predictions look like if offered by faith leaders rather than business leaders? We’re going to find out in the coming weeks by seeking the input of our network. We’ll report back on what we hear, but in the meantime, here are a few recent faith trends that we expect will continue to grow in 2019.
It’s hard to walk around Washington, DC, these days without finding a church that has been or is in the process of being converted into luxury condos. In a city struggling to provide enough affordable housing and other services to keep its lower income residents, the idea of community institutions being turned into housing for the wealthy can be discouraging, to say the least. And DC is not alone. … Fortunately, various groups are emerging to re-imagine the problem and find solutions.
As cities have experienced a renaissance in recent decades, many have taken up the economic, social, and moral questions surrounding the process of gentrification. As residents that have called their neighborhoods home for generations face economic displacement, and low-income workers who make the growth of cities possible cannot find affordable housing near their jobs, faith communities and others have taken up the cause in many forms - services to low-income neighbors, advocacy for affordable housing, and more. One particularly creative approach is gaining steam - using land owned by faith institutions to increase the stock of affordable housing. Read about how churches in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area are forging multi-million dollar partnerships with private developers and government to build housing on their land in this article from the Washington Post.
Social innovation requires deep contextual understanding to shape solutions that will have a sustainable impact. In this story in the Huffington Post, listen to Nick Tilsen talk about how he rooted himself in his home community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is helping the community create its own future, deeply connected to its own history and spirituality.
Urban faith institutions often find themselves on the front lines of issues of homelessness and affordable housing in their communities. This story from Faith and Leadership about the innovative work of a congregation in Detroit shows how an asset-based perspective can change the focus from reacting to a need to creating a transformative solution. Stay tuned for more stories of how faith institutions are reimagining their role in the housing sector.