Cities Must Commit to Well-Being of its Neighbors

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Why should Christians care for their neighbors in their cities?

The vehicle for social change lies in the ideal of placing our neighbor’s needs with our own in a social, relational, and vocational sense, says New City Commons’ Greg Thompson.  Thompson shared the thoughts earlier this year at the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work’s (NIFW) Redemption Through Innovation event at Houston Station.

“Substantive changes happen not through the genius, but through the dense ordinary overlapping network of individuals.”

What Thompson highlights is each city’s need for leaders in every sphere of influence to fight for flourishing in their specific industry. In Nashville, it means healthcare entrepreneurs, music industry executives, and hospitality leaders each impact their communities in ways that uniquely resonate.

For example, one of NIFW’s Gotham graduates used his experience in the sphere of real estate to influence a hot topic for our city: affordable housing. The result of his nine-month intensive experience with Gotham led him to reignite Nashville’s Barnes Fund, which incentivizes developers to build more affordable housing.

Substantive changes happen not through the genius, but through the dense ordinary overlapping network of individuals.

It was a seemingly simple yet profoundly impactful way for one real estate agent to consider his neighbors in the city who normally might be marginalized.

“This means,” Thompson notes, “that thriving cities require a network of well-formed leaders who are committed above all to the thriving of their neighbors.”

There’s a need for greater flourishing across our entire city, in multiple arenas.   

According to a report from The Tennessean in 2015, the overall poverty rate dipped to 17.8 percent in Nashville, but that number rose to 18.6 percent in 2016.

"The gains exist, but they are minimal," Dinah Gregory, Metro Social Services data analysis director, told a crowd of about 250 in 2015 during a presentation at the downtown library. "That's not much comfort to the 117,000 who still live in poverty."

It truly becomes a matter of how each sector chooses to engage. How are you and your network of fellow “well-formed leaders”committing to the thriving of your neighbors in your industry?

You can view Thompson’s full comments from the clip below:

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