Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Blunt Scholar

The Blunt Scholar: The Riley-Fitch - McKinney Scholarship
for Free Thinking, Creative Expression and Independent Journalism

This scholarship is directed toward students with an interest in creative writing and courageous reporting. Established by the Blunt Group of 1976 in honor of their faculty mentors, Noel Riley-Fitch and Michael David McKinney, the scholarship and annual lectureship seeks to foster free thinking and creative expression in the Christian college context.

The "Bluntees" as they were known, were non-conformist, idealistic, cynical yet justice-oriented students who published an underground newspaper called "The Blunt" in 1975-1976 after the official student newspaper, "The Point" was censored and closed down by administration officials.  (More about the views and activities of this "radical student" group can be read in the book, For Zion's Sake: A History of Point Loma Nazarene University by Ronald Kirkemo

Current and past recipients of the Scholarship shall be termed "Blunt Scholars"

The purpose of the Blunt Scholarship is to support witty, gifted and idealistic students with a radical edge who write and publish their works. The ideal candidate will be someone with intellectual curiosity, who is well-read, socially conscious, and who has formed opinions and beliefs that challenge the status quo. Candidates should feel a sense of responsibility to the larger community and have thought about their relationship to it.

Eligibility Criteria

Journalism majors or minors are prime candidates for this scholarship, but other students with writing talent may also fit the profile and purpose of the scholarship program. Application can be made by any student currently attending classes at PLNC who had a grade point average of 3.5 or greater during the preceding quarter.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must submit a published writing of their own and a one to three page personal essay, along with at least two letters of recommendation from faculty members and/or fellow students. The essay and letters should describe, with appropriate wit, creativity or sarcasm, how the applicant fits the image of the Blunt Scholar and would fulfill the purpose of the scholarship program.  The selection committee considers a published writing to be a work published in any non-professional or professional forum, including high school and college works; the venue in which the work was published should be referenced. 

Entry date

Applications shall be submitted to the Faculty Advisor by January 15th, who will forward the applications to the Selection Committee on or before February 1st of each year. Selection will take place prior to April 1st, and an award will be presented at commencement each year. The scholarship shall be applied to the immediate academic year following the award and will be paid at the start of the fall term.

Faculty Advisor

A current member of the faculty at PLNC approved by the selection committee will act as the Faculty Advisor to the Selection Committee. The faculty advisor will receive applications, copy them and disperse them by email or direct mail to the selection committee members. The faculty advisor will notify the selection committee members of the winning recipient each year and arrange for the presentation of the award.

The Selection Committee

The Selection Committee shall consist of original Bluntees and alumni Blunt Scholars who meet one of the following two criteria: 1) shall have made contributions totaling $1000 or more toward the scholarship fund, or 2) a contribution of at least $50 in the preceding calendar year. Scholarship recipients become eligible alumni upon graduation.

Method of Selection

The selection committee members shall read the entries and vote for their first and second choices for winner. If the voting member feels no entrant is suitable for a first or second place vote, they can vote "No entrant" for either or both choices. An entrant (including a "No entrant" vote) receives 2 points for each first place vote and 1 point for each second place vote. The entrant with the highest total wins. In case of tie, the entrant with the most first place votes win. If the "No entrant" vote wins, the scholarship is not awarded that year.

Use of funds

Scholarship money can be applied to tuition and on-campus room-and-board fees.

 Modifications to the Scholarship

Any changes in the scholarship program must be approved by the Selection Committee.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shalom Inspiration for Ocean Grove

Today, Annie Allen and I commissioned 25 new Shalom Team members--from Camden, Montclair, Newark and Drew Theological School's Working Group on Race--who together had completed their 30 hours of training in Asset-Based Community Development.   The  Commissioning Service took place at Thornely Chapel of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, Ocean Grove, NJ.   Below is part one of my notes for the Shalom Inspiration I shared: 

How long does it take to transform a community in the spirit of shalom?

There's an old Sufi teaching story of the Watermelon Hunter which may shed some light on this question:

“Once upon a time there was a man who strayed from his own country into the Land of Fools. He saw a number of people running in fear from a field where they had been trying to harvest wheat. They reported to this man that there was a monster in the field. Upon closer observation, the traveler saw that it was only a watermelon. The traveler offered to kill this monster for them, and he cut the melon from the stalk and ate it. The people then became more afraid of him than of the monster and drove him away from their village.

It happened later that another man wandered into the Land of Fools, and the same thing began to take place. This man agreed, however, that it was a monster and led them tiptoeing away from it. He spent a long time with them and lived with them in their houses until he could slowly teach them the facts that would help them to lose their terror of melons. Eventually, they even grew melons for their own pleasure.” (Shah, 1970)

Seek the Shalom of the City where you have been sent, and remain there for 40 years (Jeremiah 29:7 ff)

We seek the shalom of the city by settling down and staying long enough to make a difference. In the words of our Credo of a Community Developer: “We go to the people and live among them. We listen to them, and learn from them. Plan with them and work with them. We start with what they know, and build on what they have…”

Systemic Change takes a long time. Incarnational ministry is required. Patience and listening to others are needed. Not the know-itll and I’ll- tell-you-what-you-should-do approach. Not acting unilaterally or arrogantly, but in community with humility.

Ask Wilbert Mitchel, Executive Director of Respond, Inc. in Camden, what is required and how long it takes to see real change in North Camden. He’s been at it now for 43 years! It takes a generation for transformation to take place. When I visited the North Camden site, Wilbert walked me around the neighborhood and showed me all the programs, the houses, the streets. But one particular street in the neighborhood stood out among the others. One particular street was lined with tall trees on both sides along the sidewalks. “Why is it,” I asked, “that this street block has nice tall trees, and the other blocks don’t have trees?”

Wilbert replied, “Because I planted those trees.”

“How long ago,” I asked.

“About 40 years ago.” He said.

I was amazed at how thick and tall the trees had grown in 40 years. “Can you remember when these big trees were just seedlings?” I asked him.

He said he could. “You mean, you can close your eyes in front of this tree and remember when this tree was just a seedling in your hands?” He shook his head.

“I got to take a picture of you and one of your trees,” I said. I want to remind myself of how long it takes to grow a tree and to see a change in community development.

“Seek the Shalom of the city, where I have sent you,” says the Lord. Stay there long enough to make a difference. It may take 40 years for the city to prosper. But if the city prospers, you too will prosper. In its shalom you will find you shalom.’

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Arrived in Mizak

It was chaotic getting in the Port-au-Prince airport, waiting for and gathering bags among hundreds of passengers, and then struggling to get out to the Tap Tap truck and van that awaited us, which required navigating through the scores of self-appointed red hat baggage handlers aggressively insisting on helping you carry your bags to a taxie wanting your business.  I lost my money pouch in the process.  

I was glad our mission was not in the city of Port-au-Prince which was devastated by the earthquake.  So many homes and buildings destroyed, a million people displaced, thousands now lving in tents--some new that were donated, most hastily constructed with whatever materials were available--on the both sides of the streets or in encampments set up by international NGO's.

I was glad our mission was in Mizak--about 3 hours southwest of Port au Prince, and 45 minutes by motorcycle up the mountain from the city of Jakmel (where Angelina Jollie was reported to have been this week as she and Brad contemplate making a huge donation to Haiti relief and development).  

That’s where I am today--Tuesday-- catching up on my travel blog after 3 days working in the Shalom Zone.

In the partcular Mizak village where we are, the local community population is about 600 families. Its elevation 2000 feet above sea level, about 2/3 up the mountain.  Its remote, primitive in its living conditions, and coping fairly well seven weeks after the earth quake. There seems to be enough to eat. Rice and beans, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, pork and eggs to eat if you are a subsistence farmer; or if you have cash to purchase goods from villagers.  HAPI is trying to feed 150-500 kids three times a week.  Right now, its peanut butter sandwiches for a mid day meal.  We hope, and are actively working on, securing prepackaged nutritional food to feed the kids who come to the Peace Park operated by HAPI.

HAPI is the organization we are partnering with to create a community of Shalom.  They sponsor an Artists Coop,  a Medical Clinic, and a Peace Pals program for kids.   To continue, they need an international market for the artisans to earn a living, medicine and medical volunteers to staff the clinic, and food in bulk to run the Peace Pal program 3 days a week. 

Food in bulk is scarce and so far no international NGO has included HAPI in their food aid distributions, perhaps because the priorities are in the main cities, or because its not in any NGO’s assigned jurisdiction, or because they have no advocate. 

HAPI, as you may know from previous posts, stands for Haitian Artisans for Peace International—a 3 year old non-profit focused on honoring local artists and artisans and empowering women in order to work for peace (locally defined as freedom from fear) and build community from the inside out.   Last year they applied for ShalomZone Training and membership in the Shalom network.  On January 12—the day of the Earthquake—their application was approved and prioritized by Drew for Shalom training and the assignment of a Shalom summer intern.

Our Shalom mission this week has four objectives: 1) meet and present the Shalom resource to 30+ artisans working together in the HAPI coop; 2) work with HAPI staff on preparations for the training and summer internship; 3) secure more food, tarp and tent donations, and 4)  initiate the construction of the Shalom Wall around the perimeter of the Shalom Zone—a designated zone of safety, security, peace, help, hope, empowerment and all that we mean when we use the term SHALOM.  

With a $10,000 emergency grant from UMCOR, local leaders have prioritized building a "Shalom Wall" around their Peace Park--donated land for community center with an international Peace Pole in the center.  Funds for the wall will also be used for the construction of community latrines, cistern and septic area. Once constructed, relief efforts can turn to development work in the community where half of the houses have been severely damaged or destroyed by the earthquake.   The Shalom Zone will serve as a demonstration area for what can happen in Mizak is people work together for peace, harmony, health, healing and wholeness in the name of God’s Shalom. 

Friday, March 05, 2010

Heading to Haiti Today

After weeks of working the phones, blogging about the need for relief and development, and raising funds for projects, finally I’m heading to Haiti today to help with cash for food, tents, tarps, meds and a security wall around the Shalom Zone.

Christa White, an anthropologist who speaks Creole and  teaches IT at Drew, is joining me to represent Communities of Shalom at Drew; and together we are joining a mission team from Texas comprised of a doctor, psychologist, nurses, physician assistant, and other United Methodist volunteers totally 20 for a week in Mizak, Haiti.

Mizak, as you may know from previous posts, is a cluster of villages in the mountains with a total population of 35,000.  70% are living under the poverty level of $1 US per day.  63% are under the age of 18.  There's no hospital or doctor.  No educational opportunties beyond High School.  No jobs or vocational training.   There's no electricity, pluming, or water filtration.  There's subsistence farming and agricultural livelihood, but limited nutritional food.

I'm packed for a week.  Bringing protein bars, knowing rice and beans will be available for purchase).  There may be a mattress on a floor on which to sleep, but I’ve been asked to bring a sleeping bag, and a tent to use and leave behind.  I'm brining two tents to add to the tarps that have been donated.

The plan is to leave this afternoon after the Drew Faculty Meeting, fly to Miami for an overnight layover, and then head to Port-au-Prince tomorrow, arrive in Mizak in the mountains tomorrow evening, and stay for a week during Spring Break.