This is a question I get often, and I usually answer with something like the following:
We do a lot of things at Our Common Ground. We welcome people into our space, both physical and relational. We get to know people where they are at. We walk alongside others as we are able, and as they allow and invite us to do so. We learn as much as we can from and with our neighbors who live outside. We do our best to be a voice in our larger community not for, but alongside, our neighbors experiencing poverty, addiction, and mental (un)health.
But to be honest, answering that question can be hard. Not only because what we do on any given day can be so diverse, but also because that question doesn’t really get to the heart of our work. Because what we do depends on not only who we are, but also who we hope to be.
So who are we?
We are people living both inside and outside. We are neighbors and friends. We are people struggling with the illness of addiction. We are people that have found health and healing from addiction, and want to be present with others. We are people who are wary of others, and struggle to fit in with other people after years on the street. We are neighbors who live on the street, and are tired of always being treated like second class citizens, or being ignored entirely. We are Our Common Ground staff, putting in many hours each week to make sure everything happens and all the behind the scenes work is done. We are volunteers, who take time out of our week to get to know the people who join us, and help us make our hospitality space happen each week. These are just a few of the things that we are.
And who do we hope to be?
We hope to be a place where people can get to know one another, and friendships can form., and take time to get to know each other when we stop by Our Common Ground. We hope to be a community, where these friendships can join together into something beautiful. We hope to be a place where all are welcome because they are people. We hope to be a place where labels our culture puts on people - addict, homeless, lazy, dirty, dangerous, crazy - can go away, and everyone can be seen for who they are, people who deserve to be loved simply because they exist. We hope to be a place where success looks like faithful presence to other people, not fixing people. We hope to be a place where people walk alongside one another, and help each other out when life gets hard. We hope to be a place where people can get angry and grieve the pain and injustice of our world. And we hope to be a place where laughter can happen, and where we can celebrate the good and the beautiful in our community.
And this is why we do what we do.
Now Our Common Ground is still pretty new, and we are still continuing to learn who we are, and still dreaming and scheming about who we hope to be in the world. But we are so thankful we are able to be present in Everett, and do the work that we do every week.
We've been blessed by some grants to get this work started. Thank you to our donors and grantors so far - particularly Northwest Christian Church in Seattle, whose grant allowed us to get this work off the ground. And Our Common Table church here in Everett, who freed up Luke to do this work over the last year.
As we transition from 2016 into 2017, we are beginning the work of becoming financially independent. Keeping this good work going into 2018 will mean more and more partners join us in keeping the hospitality flowing. We need friends and neighbors to join us over the next 12 months. We'd be honored if you wanted to be one of those partners as we go forward! Consider partnering with us today.
Thank you so much, and we hope you have a wonderful year ahead