The countdown is on to what could be a turning-point for Memphis, Nov. 14, when more than 300 people will gather to think and talk and make plans around pulling their city to a new greatness.
If that sounds highly aspirational, that is just what it is, although there are “feet on the ground” behind this dreaming.
The people and ideas out of which this dream arises include the Center for Transforming Communities, which has been working in Memphis for more than 20 years, and is spearheading the Nov. 14 event.
The asset-based community development (ABCD) which will be integral to the gathering has been at the center of CTC’s work and is yielding the results it’s intended to. That is, people in neighborhoods are realizing their gifts, seeing new possibilities and taking ownership for the changes they want to see happen. These results have been documented in Memphis, as well as in many other places that have introduced ABCD.
In addition to bringing together people from across greater Memphis, the Nov. 14 event will see author and community advocate Peter Block, ABCD thought leader John McKnight, and Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann join the conversation.
Marlon Foster is pastor of Christ Quest Community Church in Memphis, one of the many faith-based organizations participating in the event.
He says he is seeing great possibilities in the day for a number of reasons, amongst those the fact that there will be such a broad cross-section of the Memphis community participating.
He has also been privy to some of the specific plans for the day, and says those are getting him excited, too, knowing how carefully every part of it is being considered, even down to moments for reflection.
“I think the intentionality of the day is going to offer so many possibilities, it’s going to offer newness, it’s going to make room for creativity,” Marlon says.
Having Peter, John and Walter guiding the conversation will also be powerful, he foresees. He shares his vision of them essentially offering what he calls a “tap on the shoulder,” an invitation to consider this or that insight or piece of wisdom, and “then backing away to allow us to engage one another as a Memphis community.”
Marlon says the best that could happen through the event next week is that people make new commitments and see specific ways they can join in or start new efforts that shine a light on their own neighborhood’s gifts and help people in them see new possibilities. The ultimate result would be those same people then together taking ownership for whatever happens in their neighborhoods going forward.