Living the compassion of Jesus

A Poverty Of Relationships

How do we share our networks with those who don’t have networks of their own?
— Brian Payne

I was recently at a special event hosted by EDGE Mentoring where the conversation was centered on community development and what we can each do to help our neighborhoods move into a brighter future. 

In that round-table event, Brian Payne (President of CICF) shared the quote above as he stated that one of the important inequalities in our world today is between those who have strong human networks and those that do not.

Simply put: One important component of poverty is a lack of a human support network. 

You've heard it said that often it's all about who you know, right? 

I think there is a lot of truth in that, and this truth is played out every day in the fact that: 

A poverty of relationships can be a debilitating and systemic roadblock to a better life.
— Jeremy Height

When someone lacks a strong support system of friends and/or family, he or she lacks access to resources of assets or relationships which may help avoid a bad situation or produce a good one. 

It could be the difference between paying rent or not. Or getting a good job. Being well represented in court. Or a bed to sleep in during rough patches of life.

Without a strong human network, one negative issue in life can snowball into an overwhelming stream of bad situations which leave a person in the grip of a cycle of poverty. 

How do we avoid these types of cycles? And how do we help those already faced with a poverty of relationships and socioeconomic roadblocks? 

That is the question that Brian challenged us with at this recent EDGE Mentoring event. 

How can we help those without a network?

In our neighborhoods and cities, how can we help those faced with poverty in an empowering way? 

Through sharing our network and healing a poverty of relationships. 

How do we accomplish this?

Here are a few thoughts: 

  • Job Fairs: Provide job fairs at your church where you help connect local businesses and business people (hopefully several being members of your church!) with your neighbors who are in need of quality employment.  
  • Porching: Start a Porch Party tradition in your neighborhood. The term was coined first by The City Gallery as a verb for throwing block parties on your front porch. Provide some food and drinks, invite neighbors onto your front porch, and get to know each other. We can only share our networks with people we get to know. 
  • Be Neighborly: Building off the first two ideas, a great first step to help with this need in our communities is for you to begin to look for ways to connect the dots between people you know. Be a network-er (but not in the cheesy salesmen way!). Instead of networking to advance yourself, network others for the benefit of others. Be a good steward of your relationships by leveraging them to help those in need of a "loan from your network." 

What are your thoughts?

Where do you see a poverty of relationships in the world around you? And how can we work together to help share our networks with others?