by Rich Jones
A few years ago, my friend Travis Glendenning and I started a conversation around how to make our communities even better. I am a local pastor as well as my district’s high school cross country coach. Travis is a public school teacher in the district next to mine, and is also that district’s cross country coach. It is a conversation centered on our shared belief in the importance of persons and organizations engaged with each other in meaningful ways for community transformation. Out of these conversations (many of which we’ve had on long runs together) between us and others, we talked about building “community hubs”. A hub is rooted in a local neighborhood for the purpose of building relationships and highlighting services already in the community, and identifying assets and finding ways to use those assets for the benefit of that community.
This is a growing discussion that has also included a wide range of other friends and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, but all who share a desire to see communities come together for the common good. These friends are corporate leaders, educators, community leaders, church leaders, artists, high school students, and young adults.
We knew that we wanted to build these hubs with an organization called “Oasis” that specializes in building hubs.
Excerpts from Oasis’ vision statement gives a picture of what they are about and what drew us to them:
“Oasis is an international organization currently working in 10 countries. The vision of Oasis is for community – a place where everyone is included, making a contribution, and reaching their God-given potential. Oasis is committed to working in an inclusive, empowering, and comprehensive way so that all people experience wholeness and fullness of life.”
However, Oasis did not exist in our hometown of Cincinnati, OH. In order to get started, we needed partners in the United States as Oasis is based out of the United Kingdom. That’s where Common Change came in. Darin Peterson (and the Common Change staff) was KEY in helping us to raise funds through a marathon that we ran last fall. They helped us figure out ways to pool our money together in order to do “good” in our communities for others.
Now we are at the point of having Oasis established in Cincinnati and moving towards Oasis’ formal structure as an organization. Common Change came alongside us and helped us in binding together a community around an idea of helping our neighbors in beautiful ways.
Cincinnati’s Oasis website is being developed, but there is information with links to more info.