Bray Family Update

Posted by Melvin Bray on February 17th, 2008 filed in Useful Perhaps

January marked the end of unemployment benefits for the family and I. I pick up a lucrative but temporary tutoring gig that will last to the end of March. And just when I discovered I would not be paid on the 1st of February, as I had been led to believe, I got calls for two quick contract gigs that carried the family through. Help may not come when you want it, but it’s always on time.

I had been waiting since December to hear back from Emory U to find out if I made it into the Anthropology program this year. I found out unofficially that I had not. I later discovered that I am in good company. I have several friends (smarter than I) looking at 2nd and 3rd attempts at doctoral programs. Meanwhile I have made connection with two Emory professors and have a year to get to know them and convince them champion my cause.

After a long interview process for which I was a final candidate, I was recently turned down for a position I really wanted as coordinator of the Interfaith Children’s Movement, ostensibly because my experience in advocacy and community organizing (more specifically, working with volunteers) has only been volunteer or perhaps because I didn’t sell it well enough.

That leaves me with a part-time (Sunday and one other evening a week) possibility on the horizon as Creative Director for a neighborhood church plant; the under-explored possibility of providing contract janitorial service to a friend’s physical therapy facility (twice a week); and the unexplored possibility of subcontract book editing and book review for a friend of mine.

These possibilities are accompanied by a joint epiphany with Leslie, my bride and significant hottie, that there is no reason I can’t resurrect Kid Cultivators as a way of life–which is only my favorite thing in the world! Only this time, Leslie would be coordinating a local home-school cohort to network and create a support system for local homeschooling moms in the broader metro-Atlanta area as well as initiating a homeschool co-op specifically for SW Atlanta, all under the Kid Cultivators banner. In addition, I am seeking funding for an interfaith youth service-learning project ($55-75k), to be coordinated by a friend, Yaisha Harding, who is the service-learning coordinator for the Atlanta Girls School (Kid Cultivators is a community partner for their 6th grade).

The impetus of all this new dreaming about Kid Cultivators is that I have been contacted by 3 sets of parents to provide home-school tutorial for their 3 boys. If those parents are serious and can identify 1-3 more students, I can do it. I miss being on the farm and doing intensive, integral work in the lives of kids–its my niche–so I can’t help but be excited by the mere possibility of getting back to it sooner than I thought.

Not to overlook, a friend of mine, Troy, I and our families are ever closer to planting a faith guild in our neighborhood. It is probably best described as a monastic endeavor, in similitude to Benedictine or Dominican orders. It will probably be initially resourced by primarily Presbyterian money, yet have no real organizational affiliation. We’ll exist for the good of the neighborhood and hopefully help to set the tone for development and reconciliation in our community, that has gentrified a significant bit, but not totally, in the past few years.

There is an old church building that sits on the corner of the major intersection in our neighborhood (you can see it behind Troy in the picture on his blog) that has been temporarily spared from demolition but needs to be integrated into the development of the rest of the square block on which it sits, if it is to be saved. Our task is to bring a developer with missional vision to the table who will buy the building outright from the partners who are developing the other two-thirds of the land for commercial and condo space. Our developer would renovate the church, turning the basement into a coffee shop or restaurant, dividing the rear office space up into possibly live-work units and reconditioning the sanctuary into a multi-use assembly space which we would rent, use and also sub-lease as a local performance venue, gallery and community-building spot. We’ll see what becomes of these dreamers…

I spent a year and a half trying to plug back into the Matrix. It just hasn’t worked. So we will do what we do and trust God to continue to send us the future of which she dreams. Thanks to everyone for your prayers. Blow, Spirit, blow…

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