Looters and Thieves

My neighborhood has been victimized by looters and thieves for years, and I'm not talking about shoplifters or those who smash windows, but those who systematically and strategically exploit the poor so they can structure the neighborhood to meet their goals.

In this post, I want to elaborate on what I said in Our Rebellious Mission, where the decisions of a few can be very destructive and harmful to the poor and vulnerable.Right next to CCO we've been sadly watching this old building being torn apart to build a fancy new place. The Wilson Men's Hotel offered cheap rent to people who could barely afford to live anywhere else. All of these older men are now gone, evicted, scattered throughout the city! This demolition caused plenty of tragic tales, but the one that struck me the hardest was how Bart, an 84-year-old blind man, who’d been living there for 15 years, ended up homeless and on our doorstep, alone, seeking shelter. We took him in, but Bart’s story speaks of how of…

Broken and Scarred

We're all broken We're all scarred  We're all guilty 
We all need healing  We all need compassion We all need forgiveness We all need liberation  We all need love
We all need the grace and mercy of our loving God
We all need to be forgiving, merciful, and compassionate to others who are broken and scarred.
I'm broken, working with broken people, assisting broken people in a broken world. When we understand this, we reduce the harm we're doing to ourselves and others. "Hurt people hurt people" is so true, but when we understand and acknowledge how deep our scars are and how we need to come together to heal those scars, the world becomes a stronger, beautiful, and more just place. 
I've been a taxi-driver. I've now been working with those experiencing homelessness for over 20 years. I've been in doing prison and jail ministry on-and-off for around 30 years. When someone's incarcerated, homeless, or struggling with addictions it's hard to escape the…

Our Rebellious Mission: Exposing the Empire

On my daily walk to work, I pass what once was the Wilson Men's Hotel. This iconic building, with its many tiny rooms and cheap rent, housed men that couldn't afford to live anywhere else. Many had lived there for decades - it was their home! I watched this rich developer start converting this old hotel into luxury apartments, causing all the elderly poor residents to scatter. Despite the promises that none would end up homeless, many did. What was most painful during this ordeal was how one 84-year-old blind man showed up on our doorstep, confused, with nowhere to go. 
This story isn't unusual: the empire is at work! A couple years ago, just down the street was Uptown Tent City where a large mass of city officials and police forcefully moved everyone who lived under these viaducts. About 10 years ago, ordinances were used in City Hall by those in charge to evict a bunch of homeless old men from CCO. Throughout the years, a group of "positive loiterers" stand in f…

Battling the Empire: George Floyd and Beyond

It's beyond George FloydIt's beyond Sandra BlandIt's beyond Zachary BearheelsIt's beyond Laquan McDonaldIt's beyond Tony McDade It's beyond Breonna TaylorIt's beyond Tamir RiceIt's beyond the officers who commit these cold-blooded murders. It's beyond the officers who stand by and protect the one using the knee or pulling the trigger. It's beyond those in power justifying it while degrading the victims. It's beyond the unfair or lack of sentencing. It's beyond these 7 beautiful people mentioned above. It's beyond the thousands of known and unknown murders committed by the very ones who are paid to "serve and protect". It's beyond "I can't breathe", "16 shots", and "hands up, don't shoot!"
It's beyond, as these individual names speak of something far greater and deeper. These killings are just the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg. It's never just about the brutal murder of one …

Our Ongoing Journey: Battling Covid-19

After being isolated in our room for over 2 weeks, Beth and I both felt better and were no longer deemed contagious. This means we were cleared to leave our bubble, go outside, and return to work. This post is part 3 - in the links below I share about the inevitability of catching Covid-19 (part 1) and how many people blessed us and CCO during our isolation (part 2). In this writing, I plan to address our ongoing journey: how the battle of isolation and tackling this coronavirus has continued.Covid-19: It Was InevitableA Bursting Bubble: thoughts from isolation I wanted to ease back into the flow, but it didn't work out that way - at all! There was so much happening on my first 2 days back at work, and against all sensible advice, I did far too much. There were some things that were unavoidable and necessary, but I should have said "NO" at other times. In other words, the demands didn't stop because of catching this virus - it's an ongoing journey, where the battl…

A Bursting Bubble: thoughts from isolation

New Zealand is using "bubble" terminology to fight against the spread of Covid-19. "Staying in your bubble" means those who aren't essential workers must stay in their houses, yards, and areas, only leaving to get needed items. I know I'm simplifying it and I'm about to generalize, but families have been confined to their fifth-acre sections (bubbles) for the greater good and protection of those who would be considered high risk - like my own father who is over 70, has a lung disease, and was hospitalized last year due to blood clots. Beth and I both got Covid-19, and have been recovering. I wrote about being an essential worker, getting the virus, and being confined to our own little bubble here in Chicago. Covid-19: It Was Inevitable
What I want to focus on in this post is how our bubble has been very different from what I described above. I also want to focus on how we have experienced and been on the receiving end of a bursting bubble of love, generos…

Covid-19: It Was Inevitable

The pandemic was gaining momentum in Chicago and the fear of Covid19 infiltrating our shelter was very real. 3 of our 4 programs operate open or congregate living situations, and in each of these shelters, bathrooms and the cafeteria are shared. We also serve a particularly vulnerable population - with a high number of our men and women being over 60 and/or have preexisting conditions. With this unseen and unpredictable virus doing potentially fatal damage, we launched into all the preventative measures we could.

I’m proud of what we did. Over the following weeks, the changes we made were difficult and seemed impossible. A few of the dilemmas we had to change: the men slept 6 inches apart from each other, the women slept in bunk beds only 3 feet from each other, and our cafeteria had long lines and everyone eats together. As a result of the very real danger, here are just some of the moves we made: we opened up unused spaces, rearranged already-used areas, made good use of ducktape, se…