My wife Becca and I have lived in Englewood for nine years. In the first four years, we rented an apartment, then a house on Logan. We wanted to put down roots and raise a family here, so we began saving to buy a house. Just after our first daughter was born six years ago, we were able to buy a home in the heart of Englewood, just off Oxford. Since then, we’ve had two more girls, and there’s another daughter on the way. Since moving to Englewood, I’ve worked as a land surveyor, draftsman, and pastor. I’ve also started a small business here and I currently work as the director of Unite Englewood.
The most important thing we can do as a community is to know and care for our neighbors. We had some really good experiences with our neighbors when we lived in the house on Logan, and it has been my passion ever since. I’ve spent the last six years building community, serving the people who live on my block, and helping other people do the same where they live.
Some of you have met me through events I’ve hosted, and I’m hoping to meet more of you that way. We’ve hosted a Christmas party every year we’ve lived in Englewood. I have an annual event called “Ancient Brew Night” where we gather neighbors and friends to brew beer the way they did in Egypt, 5,000 years ago — over an open fire, using bread, grain, and dates. (It’s surprisingly good!) I also love music, especially folk music. It’s not unusual to hear us all singing at one of our parties, and we’ve done a couple of Folk Music Nights where we all come together to sing, dance, and play our instruments.
In 2015, I began to serve as director of Unite Englewood, a coalition of churches and non-profits. I’ve spent the last two years building collaborative partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and the city government in order to better serve our city. This has led to two significant initiatives in Englewood: The Neighborhood Rehab Project and a task force on homelessness.
The Neighborhood Rehab Project is an annual day of service that I’ve led for the past two years, aiming to help elderly, low income, and disabled homeowners with safe, dry, and warm related issues with their homes. I’ve been blessed with a ton of good help. Our city officials really stepped up, a number of businesses sponsored the event, our churches and nonprofits provided money and manpower, and a bunch of Englewood residents showed up to help. In 2016, we had 120 volunteers serving at 8 homes; this year, we had 170 serving on 14 different sites! It’s been a challenge to coordinate all the moving parts, but it has worked really well. We have painted five houses, rebuilt and repaired three porches, and repaired five fences. We’ve carted off 160 yards of trash and 250 yards of tree slash. We’re proud of all that, but the most important outcome is the deep community ties formed when Englewood neighbors work side by side to help each other.
Earlier this year, I led an effort to bring together the Englewood Police Department, churches, non-profits, businesses, and residents to work together to address the growing issue of homelessness in Englewood. A lot of people wish the homeless would just go away, but the truth is that homelessness is on the rise nationwide, and we can’t just wish it away. There isn’t going to be a magic bullet, but if we’re going to make our streets safer and move people out of homelessness, collaborative efforts like this task force are what it’s going to take.
I’ve worked with my hands, I’ve worked in an office, I’ve started a business. I understand the challenges that go with all those things, and I want Englewood to be the kind of place where my daughters have opportunities to do those same things, to participate in cultural events and feel at home in our city.
In my free time, you’ll find me roasting and brewing good coffee, brewing beer, and making music with guitar and hand drums. One of my great joys is bringing all those things together by connecting with a neighbor over a home-crafted beverage or singing a home-crafted song.