Wednesday, September 29, 2010

cities as contested spaces and some church possibilities

Outstanding presentation by Jason Ting, from Planning SA, this morning at the Church in the City 2010 conference. Under the theme “Cities as contested spaces” he made the following points.

1 – Our cities are growing – A world milestone a few years ago, with more than 50% of world’s population in urban settlement

2 – Our cities are aging – 75% of elderly live in cities and this needs to be placed alongside a rising age dependency ratio (the number of people retired compared to the number of people working)

3 – Our cities are diversifying – (even) Adelaide is diversifying. In Australia, 85% of immigrants choose to live in cities.

4 – Our cities are becoming more expensive

5 – Our cities are sprawling – Australian cities are 3 to 4 times the size of comparable population sized cities in Holland

6- We fragment our space – He apologised for 20th century urban planning frameworks, which had separated residential from industrial from economic. This was driven by the human love affair with the car.

7 – We sanitize our space – The irony that especially the middle-class like to keep spaces clean. However graffiti and grunge for some, including youth, means edgy and exciting

8 – We commodify our space – Public spaces are often paid spaces. For example shopping centres which do not encourage seating in order to move on “non-paying” customers.

He then argued for three innovations:

  • Spatial innovation – What spatial entrepreneurship could church contribute to? Possibilities include places to sit, to cycle, to walk, spaces that are not commodified.
  • Social innovation – Possibilites mentioned included urban community farm, deck chairs in parks, pedestrian friendly footpaths (outdoor table tennis tables that I saw near Liverpool Station, London)
  • Spiritual innovation – how can churches encourage diversity in this area?
Posted by steve at 12:40 PM

Friday, May 28, 2010

What is church? seed cathedral as contemporary ecclesiology

Over the week I had an email, inviting me to speak on the topic of “What is Church?’ to a rural grouping of churches.

Over the week, I’ve also been thinking about an invite to speak at CityChurch 2010, the first ever gathering of city centre Uniting church leaders, to explore what it means for them to be church in the context of the centre of the city.

Over the week I discovered the Seed Cathedral (via the creative blog of Michael Volland). It is the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010. Expecting over 70 million visitors, the theme is “Better City, Better Life.” The design had three aims, including providing a significant public open space in which visitors can relax. The Seed Cathedral is 20-metres high, made from 60,000 transparent 7.5-metre long optical strands. Each of the 60,000 rods has a seed embedded within its tip. The seeds are taken from the Millennium Seedbank, at the Royal Botanical Gardens. (For more go here)

Fantastic! Amazing to see such imagination, outside the church, in such a public space.

What is church? Well, working from the Seed Cathedral it includes
– a place to honour the past (seeds/tradition) as a source of future life (seeds grow, tradition contextualises)
– a spacious place to invite reflection on living better
– an invitation to consider transcendence

This all links for me with my use of the children’s story book, Bodge plants a seed, including at the recent Queensland Synod (my talk is here). Leaders treating people as seeds, nurturing their growth, seeking the unfolding of their unique charism.

Posted by steve at 11:08 AM