Why isn’t Mine a Niche Blog? What Kind of Writer am I?

Like many writers in my generation, several years ago I began making my way as a writer by starting a blog. It seems to me that the advantage of a blog has always been that it bypasses the traditional barriers to publication. When you write and publish on a blog, you don’t need some other person to validate your work, to say you’re good enough for people to read your stuff. You get to decide that, and then if you’re lucky, the readers show up. There are, of course, some real disadvantages to blogs, and I don’t want to pretend that isn’t true, but those problems deserve to be pitted up against the good things about them.

Read More

Writing for Big Car about SPARK in Downtown Indianapolis

I enjoyed interacting with and writing for Big Car (“bringing art to people and people to art”) this past fall and summer, particularly around some of their creative placemaking experiments in Indianapolis’s Monument Circle.

From the writings of Wendell Berry, to working in a city-planning office in Anderson, Indiana, to spending some time with Big Car, I suppose it’s no accident that I flock toward conversations about thoughtful and playful engagements with place. Here are the articles I wrote:

September 15: “Ask an Expert sparks Monument Circle”

October 8: “Indianapolis Workshops Combine Placemaking, Social Practice”

October 12: “Spark boosts Circle Businesses”

November 13: “Placemaking as Homemaking”

Josh Garrels: A Different Ethic and Sustenance for my Soul

“There’s a place, a garden for the young
To laugh and dance in safety among
The shimmering light in the garden of peace
But steal a bite and paradise is lost
With darkened hearts we didn’t count the cost
Forgot all we left behind
Life picks up speed before you know
We’re holding on for dear life, Oh Lord
We’re too proud to turn back now
One day it all falls down
It breaks our heart and it breaks our crown
Brings us down where we see
It’s gonna be alright
Turn around and let back in the light
And joy will come
Like a bird in the morning sun
And all will be made well once again”
-Josh Garrels, “Morning Light”

There’s something really cool about finding an artist long before he’s famous and watching him grow, improve, and ultimately “make it.” About ten years ago, when I was a college student at Anderson University, some friends and I used to trek over to Muncie and the surrounding areas to see a Ball State dropout play shows in coffee shops, churches, and bars. His name was Josh Garrels. Belted out of his tall, lanky frame, his music blended several styles: blues, folk, hip hop, and bluegrass. Watching him play seemed like a mystical experience. His songs poetically play with the beauties of creation alongside the corruption of our culture and politics, while calling us to Kingdom ethics and intimate love. The lyrics are passionate and intelligent, overtly spiritual without being preachy or didactic.

Read More

If Anyone is Serious about Gun Control, Start Talking Specifics (and get Creative!)

“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” ~Dr./Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam–A Time to Break the Silence”

Read More

Place Matters

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’”  -Jeremiah 29:4-7

Read More