When I was 18 I went to Russia. It was 1983 and before the Berlin Wall fell and communist kleptocracy that was the old Soviet Block came crashing down. Like most 18 year olds I was spoiled and had a very US-centric view of the world. When I came home, I was a very patriotic, very thankful young person with a much deeper knowledge of the special place and time God chose to place me on this earth.
One of the highlights of the trip was Kiev. It’s a lovely, old city with onion domes as well as European architecture and I remember it felt more like Vienna than Moscow. The Red University stands out in memory because it’s actually red.
But the real highlight was the people. I remember them correcting us when we said we were excited to be visiting the Soviet Union, they preferred to think of themselves as Ukrainian, not Soviet and certainly not Russian. They talked about how close they were to central Europe and you could tell, longed to focus their society to the west, not the east.
Now, 30 years later, Kiev is torn apart by violence. Those desires of the people to face west have run afoul, again, of the old guard tied to the colonial influence of Moscow. I am certain that the leadership in The Ukraine and the leadership in Moscow have no intention of loosening their grip. And the will of the people is clearly unwilling to return to the status quo. This could get much worse before it gets better for the people of The Ukraine. Please add them to your prayers and maybe drop a donation off for their support. See Twitter for the latest.
So we’re coming in on the end of another year. If you are thinking of making a little bit more of an impact this year, consider an end of the year gift to one of these social movements in Huntsville, they are all amazing. Want to add one, just post it here.
Village Marketplace, Inc. – A 501(C)(3) Organization located in Lincoln Village area just north of downtown. VMP is engaged in 1) providing employment for people who can work but need a good first (or recovery) job; 2) providing low-cost goods to the neighborhood and 3) providing long-term funding to three local charities: Boys & Girls Club, Lincoln Academy and Village of Promise. Donate by donating material or your time to the store. Talk to Marisa Suarez-Stearns at the store.
Boys & Girls Club – What an amazing ministry! There are clubs all over the county serving kids with after school care, summer programs and all sorts of homework help, transportation, meals, mentors and basically a whole support system for a group of kids that really depend on them. My friend Lisa Downs is involved with them as an education coordinator. Pat Wynn is the Director and a powerful advocate for the kids. Several other close friends have served on their board including Jodi Adams, Bill Fowler and I am sure more I don’t know about. They do good work. Donate here.
Lincoln Academy – A Christian school located in the Lincoln Village area just north of downtown. My Dad went there in the 30s when the Lincoln Mill was still operating. Since then the neighborhood went way down and was the scene of depravity and poverty and hopelessness. Then, in 2005 some crazy people from Southwood Church lead by their chief crazy person my friend Mark Stearns began to pour into the area pledging to do whatever it took to drag the people out of the darkness that was overtaking their world. It worked, now they own the school and it’s a center of hope and excellence. Give till it hurts folks, these amazing people are changing lives every day down there.
Village of Promise – So Bobby Bradley grew up in the neighborhood, graduated from Butler High School and Vanderbilt University. She’s a smart, focused, dedicated business person and that talent allowed her to build a big company and then to sell it. Now, refocused on her home town, she’s determined to break the cycle of generational poverty in the University Place Elementary School area. She’s gathering support and supporters (and Board Members like me) to work on a data-driven, strategic initiative to tutor, mentor and otherwise push 1700+/- kids into college and into a better life. Donate here.
Randolph School – The only K-12 Independent School in North Alabama, Randolph is the leading primary and secondary educational institution in the area. As a Trustee of the school and an alumnus it’s my sincere belief that no organization can do more to advance the pursuit of excellence in primary education in the area. As part of an effort to take that leadership role Randolph has established the Randolph School Community Learning Fund with the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County. It’s a great way to donate to the School and to focus those funds on an effort that benefits the whole city. Donate here.
Land Trust of Huntsville & North Alabama – Driving east from the airport into Huntsville you see the city nestled against the rolling green hills of the lower cumberland plateau. Those hills overlooking the town are for the most part undeveloped, creating a nearly unbroken “emerald necklace” surrounding the city’s downtown. That land, plus more than 5000 acres in three counties, was preserved by the Land Trust. It’s still today offering one of the best Urban Trail systems in the country because of the tireless advocacy of the Land Trust. Want to help? Sign up for the Land Baron’s program that deducts a small amount from your account each month earmarked solely for the purchase of open space.
The Nature Conservancy – The Conservancy is the Land Trust writ large. The Conservancy has a big presence in Alabama and I joined the State Board of Trustees this year. I can’t say enough about the professionalism and dedication of their staff. Wow. The lands in Paint Rock Valley all the way down the Cahaba and the Coosa down into the Delta where Alabama spreads out to meet the Gulf. The lands and micro-habitats preserved by the Conservancy maintain the very life that makes up our world, and is so additive to our own experience in ways that we don’t fully understand. Donate by becoming a member, it’s easy and cheap. If everyone I know did this we’d live in a measurably better State and you won’t miss a small auto-debit each month.
Two announcements in one day is heavy for us. But, there’s another one! About 400 brokers in the Birmingham area are getting notices today that the Spring MLS API has been released for GreaterAlabamaMLS.com. For the first time ever, broker members can signup for an API key and interact with the MLS real time. Post here for more information and look for an Early Adopter announcement Monday. Innovation is cool! See more at www.solidearth.com
One of our staff was assaulted while taking her baby into Jackson Way daycare by the child’s father. He’s psycho and not stable. Pray for healing for all involved, especially this lost and misguided little shit who hurt his baby’s momma. Hope he has a looooonnnngg time think about it in the poky. Very soon. Today preferably.