Multiplication Center

Linking Arms, Linking Lives

March 4, 2009

Linking arms
How can urban-Suburban Partnerships transform Communities? 

Is it even possible?

Linking Arms, Linking Lives is by several community development heavy weights like Ron Sider, John Perkins, and Wayne Gordon.  I'd say the book is more than a good start on this rapidly emerging issue.

Too often I read books that seem to speak to completely different audiences in the suburbs and in the urban core, but these folks are really well acquainted with how the two fields are crossing over with the suburbanization of poverty. 

It's a fairly practical book if you're looking to just get going or move forward with partnering with 'the other side'.  One great tip is there warnings of not jumping the gun and trying to partner through brand new contacts.  Start small and begin with existing relationships. 

Also for us to not allow inequality to define the relationship.  On both ends, whether urban or suburban we need to be able to answer the profound question of “I need you because…”

They also warn deeply entrenched urban folks to humbly listen to suburban insights, and to not allow “the oppressed in you, become the oppressor”. 

One practical innovation was their example of Lawndale Community Church's Christmas project.  Rather than handing out a bunch of gifts and toys to families, they created a store where everything was on sale at 10% of the price.  This allowed parents to choose and purchase their own gifts for their kids and to be able to say with dignity, 'I got this for you', it wasn't simply a handout. 

by Lon Wong at

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