Turning to one another in tough times By Shea Howell

Thinking for ourselves

Turning to one another in tough times

By Shea Howell

November 15, 2011

 The Riverfront East Congregational Initiative (RECI) is hosting a fall festival this Saturday November 19 to spread the word among congregations and community members about resources available to sustain, protect and improve life for people, especially on the East side.

As the reality of the draconian state budget cuts spreads across our neighborhoods, members of the Congregational Initiative, representing 18 faith communities on the East Side, began to talk about what to do. Everyone is facing tougher times. Money is scarce. Utilities are going up, foreclosures are a daily reality, and children need love and protection. In the sometimes crazy, fragmented way of Detroit, often resources that could make a difference are just around the corner, but unknown to those who need them most.

Members of RECI asked how they could respond to what we all know will be a more desperate and despairing winter. They asked, “How do we help people turn to one another, not on one another?”

One answer to that question is to coordinate and promote the resources of their faith congregations. Food pantries, clothing, assistance with parenting, dispute resolution and family activities are all offered through the collective efforts of the community. Health and wellness programs are frequently available as well.

So this Saturday RECI will highlight the resources available to strengthen us through its second Community Fair. The first, a People’s Festival held in June, attracted over 600 residents, many within walking distance of Mack and East Grand Boulevard.


The Community Resource Fair is part of a longer range campaign by the group called Luv D Eastside. In their first Newsletter they say:

“For the past year, the Riverfront East Congregational Initiative (RECI) has been talking about Detroit’s Eastside. We’re all full of love for this place where many of us live and all of us worship. Some of us joined RECI because we were frustrated by the way the news talked about our neighborhoods, others were excited by the opportunity to share their faith with different congregations, and still more were looking to make sure that our communities’ stories are heard. No matter our different beginnings, we have all come to the same conclusion: it’s time to show the Eastside some LUV, and our congregations are the ones who can do it best! We’ve learned that we share a wide range of values, such as encouragement among peers, community empowerment, and the preservation of our


Our goals are to provide knowledge of and access to necessary and valued resources, and to inform and educate about what’s happening in our city. Knowledge is power, and RECI’s aim is to help build a more participatory and empowered Eastside.”

Their goals for the Resource Fair are clear”

• Allow Eastside congregations to get to know one another and learn about the services they provide to our community

• Develop relationships between congregations and businesses, community agencies, etc. that will help in the economic growth and shaping the future of our community.

• Provide support to the members of our community that may be facing hardship due to the economic climate of our city and impending state cuts.

• Identify resources and “assets” that we have in our community and share this information with the community.

• Promote local businesses in our community and strengthen the economy in our community.

As a sign of the emerging collaborative energy in the city, the fair is being held at UAW Local 7, 2600 Conner St in Detroit from 10 to 2. A network of buses has been put together to help bring neighbors to the festival.

It is the energy, imagination and compassion of groups like RECI that offer the best hope for our future.


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