A Violent City

I learned yesterday that the city in which I live ranks in the top 5 cities in the nation for the most violent.  Not a distinction that was actively pursued, nor one that will be heralded in the promotional materials for the city.  However, also not a surprise.  We live here and are accustomed to the violence.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Since we are used to the violence, we tend to forget that every place isn’t like this.  So the ranking did come as a surprise simply because, for all of the places that you might imagine are the most violent, odds are, we surpassed them.  That is shocking.

Growing up in rural Nebraska, never did I imagine that I would ever live in a city with this distinction.  However, I also didn’t imagine myself being married to such an adventurer, a visionary, a man committed to social justice, and a man in love with the urban setting.   We moved here 6 years ago to use this urban setting as a backdrop to experiment with unique ways of bringing people together, and to see how much more can be accomplished with collaboration as opposed to isolation.

So how do you alleviate social injustices and calm the violence in a city?  I can only tell you what we are attempting to accomplish.  We own (using the word “own” very loosely, because we are in partnership with another great guy, and the business tends to own us sometimes…) a business that brings entrepreneurs and non-profit directors together in a co-working environment, with the vision that collaboration will occur as people work in close proximity to each other.

In our little microcosm of the city, it is doing just that.  It astounds me that people who are used to working by themselves, and in an American culture that tends to hold their ideas and products close to their chests, these innovators willingly share their inspirations and enthusiastically collaborate with others on their ideas.  Daily, people who are the tops in their field sit down with others in completely unrelated ventures to brainstorm, dream, problem-solve, and contribute into each other’s interests.

It is kind of like how church should be.  And my husband, who was a pastor for 15+ years, is completely in his element.

Anyway, our joy is to see that these visionaries, with passion for social change and great innovations to implement these changes, are landing their ideas in the city and are making movement towards social transformation.

Obviously, it is a slow process, but I truly believe that we are doing our little part in influencing those who will eventually influence the city that we love.

And for those of you who were considering coming to visit us, don’t let this news deter you!  With God’s protection and grace, we are completely safe and are making great headway towards peace and reconciliation!   🙂



Filed under General thoughts

2 responses to “A Violent City

  1. I know this adventure was not on the radar however you have navigated our journey together as my wife with grace and strength. While our City places high in this dubious list, I do look forward to a day when we are listed among the most livable Cities in America.

    We have been working with civic leaders, aldermen, and our urban neighborhood group called “Chatham Square Neighborhood Association”, to see our city come back from its decline.

    New Haven still resembles any number of post-industrial American cities: disproportionately poor, too much youth violence, and too few opportunities for the products of a broken public education system. Our communities are working together more, and each of our city’s successes to date have begun to instill a confidence among community leaders that even the remaining seemingly intractable problems might be addressed.

    Cities change when people work together, engage the issues, and fight for real change. Working as social missionaries, we have lived as missonal people working to help our neighborhood help itself grow stronger, healthier, more stable, more prosperous and more peaceful. One thing I know is working to change my city has changed me.

  2. Steve Roach

    I and my family are just beginning to understand God’s purpose of His Gospel as it pertains to the city. I have not seen a lot of teaching on this other than Tim Keller out of NYC. It is motivating and encouraging to me to see and hear how the Janke famly have actually taken the teaching and living it out. I am much better at hearing the Word than doing the Word. Our prayers are being made regularly for the Gospel impact you are having on your community. Growing up in Connecticut and only 20 miles from where you are I remember how poor the area was and how big the spiritual void was and is now. I look forward to the next time I am in Connecticut because I want to come and see your community in action.

    May God continue to bless the work of your hands and your heart and may He continue to provide protection for your family.

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