By Nick Sena and Ava Lindstrom
To start, we apologize for the delay in the post from day #1. It was such a long day that we just had to crash at the end of it, and we just now have time to put our thoughts together here at the end of day #2 (day #2 post coming right after this!)
We visited the monday morning general meeting of one of the world’s largest street newspaper distributors called The Contributor. This newspaper highlights the written and artistic contributions of the homeless and formally homeless individuals living in downtown Nashville. It promotes social justice, human dignity, and the artistic talents of the homeless community. The Contributor is sold for $2 each and sixty percent of that revenue provides an income for their homeless vendors. Allowing the homeless vendors to earn money through honest work restores dignity and encourages positive lifestyle changes.
Room in the Inn began with a simple idea from Father Charlie Strobel on a cold November night in 1985: why must the homeless sleep outside in the cold when there is room inside the church building? Room in the Inn has since grown to several cities across the country, allowing groups of homeless guests to be housed in churches once a week during the coldest (and sometimes hottest) months of the year. In Nashville, the mission has expanded to include a daytime shelter, meal provision, classes, safe houses, and low-income housing for homeless. All these options provide outlets for community building, respect, and personal expression which allows individuals experiencing homelessness to feel valued as an individual and welcomed in to the community, rather than a statistical number or someone endlessly living off of free support. Social reincorporation happens on the individual level, and Room in the Inn serves to welcome individuals in to receive the resources they need.
Vine Street Christian Church
We had the privilege to meet with the pastor of Vine Street Christian Church, Thomas Kleinert, and discuss how he engages his congregation in social justice conversations. He had several comments about the importance of approaching all topics with loving kindness, while not shying away from the truth of difficult matters.