This past weekend Brad and I visited Chicago for a number of reasons, but probably the most important reason was a meeting with the Josiah Community. This is a group of folks from Chicago who are coming together with a vision for a building in North Lawndale. This building, in fact:
The vision of the Josiah Community is to transform this building into a L’Abri-style learning center for urban ministry and spiritual growth. Also, the top three floors will offer 45 cohousing units. What is cohousing? Cohousing is a architectural development style that centers around building community. In a cohousing community, each individual or family owns his own living space (a house or condo) but also shares a good deal of space with the rest of the community. The plan for the Josiah Community project is to have a shared kitchen and dining room (where members can enjoy dinner together each night or eat dinner in their own condos, using their own kitchens), playroom, music room, tool room, laundry facilities, garden, dog run, canning/food storage room, and a lot more that hasn’t been figured out.
The whole purpose of cohousing, and of the Josiah Community in particular, is that we would be a true community. A hundred years ago, folks lived in small towns and worked together to build the town. If someone needed a barn built, everyone would come together to accomplish that task. Women would work together to can the summer’s harvest. Families would share tools and that responsibilities of watching the children. Cohousing seeks to create that sense of shared responsibility and support.
Another important aspect of the Josiah Community is making a strong impact on the outside community, our neighbors in Lawndale. Lawndale is a low-income area with a lot of social, spiritual, and financial needs. God is doing incredible things there, especially through the work of Lawndale Community Church. It would be wonderful for the people in Lawndale to see Josiah Community as a place where they can go and find people that will love and care for them no matter what. This is the prayer.
The final part of this project is the Josiah Community learning center, where people can come from around the world to stay in the guest rooms or hostel and learn more about spiritual development, social justice, and urban ministry.
I came across this project somewhat by accident (or probably not so much by accident) and the concept floored me. I would love to live in a place with other Jesus followers, learning and sharing with each other, as well as trying to make a difference in a very struggling part of Chicago. The Josiah Community is just starting out, but let me tell you, this is an amazing bunch of people. We just met for a few hours last Sunday but I already feel like I have known these folks for a lifetime. They are incredible, smart, passionate people who are really trying to seek out God’s will for their lives and this building. Brad and I are taking the plunge to become a part of this project. It is our prayer that it will turn into a reality.
Brad and I were able to get a tour of the building, and it was absolutely incredible! This is on the fifth floor, where Brad and I would like to get a unit. There is enough ceiling height here to create lofted space. The glass block in the windows will be knocked out and used for shower walls. Huge windows with photovoltaic awnings will take their place. The goal is to having the building create enough energy for itself, and even to sell some electricity back to the grid. And did I mention there will be a canning room in the basement. Oh, it makes my heart flutter!
This is the view from one of the windows. Look closely and you can see the Chicago skyline.
So right now the goal for Brad and me is to get an apartment in Logan Square, which is a bit north of Lawndale, a bit of a nicer area so that we can adjust to city living before taking the plunge in Lawndale. Once we are in Chicago, we will continue meeting with the Josiah Community and being part of the process to bring this vision to reality. And there is still room for more people to join us (hint, hint)