Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations, you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
That’s a confession not likely to make you any friends in Ireland in 2010 and it’s something I only really realised today. A number of things came together.
I walked around Hosford House in the company of a demolition team, who will return on Monday to begin taking down the hostel.
Earlier in the day, I walked into the former Skyline warehouse (block 1 below, outlined in violet) where contractors have been busy for about 4 weeks transforming it into our new furniture warehouse and cafe. It looks great – bright, fresh and clean and ready to open next Tuesday. The newly branded cafe, Re:Fresh, will sell some of the healthiest and cheapest food on the whole of the Newtownards Road, and the new furniture warehouse will continue the work of Re:Store, which has been such a key element of the social economy strategy of EBM.
As we walked out of the store, we noted that contractors had also finished work on repaving the section of the street outside the premises. And the signmakers were finishing erecting the signs for the cafe and furniture store.
Back in the office I looked out my window and realised that the long held vision for Skainos was already being realised. We’ve always aspired to seeing the Skainos Project making a significant contribution to the regeneration of the community – socially, economically, physically, environmentally and spiritually.
Though the main construction project hasn’t begun yet, already the impact is being seen. By Tuesday the main site (block 2, outlined in yellow below) will be completely vacated ready for the contractor to take possession. By Tuesday, the former disused Skyline warehouse on the adjacent block (block 1) will be back in productive use, employing several people and contributing to the economic life of the area. The office building I’m in has been remodelled by us and the two units next door have been purchased by a private sector developer (block 3, outlined in blue below) . The next block up has had its frontage renewed. And all round the DSD have renewed the paving and kerbing.
The Newtownards Road is changing, and our faith-based, community focused agency is leading the way in our part of it.
The verse from Isaiah up above has been a significant one for me in the last number of years. It is a poetic passage which describes one dimension of the reputation of the people of God.
Now I’ve heard countless sermons pondering what it means for the people of God to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation etc. a more familiar description (1 Peter 2:9). Not once have I ever heard anyone promoting this Isaiah verse as one of our coveted names.
We are the rebuilders of ancient ruins and the restorers of streets with dwellings.
It’s at least as valid as the more spiritual, esoteric names. Perhaps more so, because it describes our impact on the places where people actually live and move and have their being. It describes our intolerance of dereliction. Our intention to create livable, walkable cities of human scale. I think I would also want to argue that it is an approach to development that gives the profit motive a rightful place, which is not pre-eminent.
It is an approach to development that is people focused in it’s outcomes and in the bottom line. It’s an understanding of urban development that draws its inspiration from a biblical vision of the city in the Kingdom of God, developer heaven if you like!
[other city futures here]