Red Shield Dialogues

Do you remember the days when anything was possible? The days when you could lay on your back in the middle of a field and look to the clouds to find an entire zoo? The days you sent your kids with those encouraging words, “You can be anything you want to be.” Sometimes it is wonderful to spend some time with those who do not live in the experienced realities of discouragement…the innovators, the dreamers, the visionaries, the hopeful.

Imagine with us for a moment… Nashville’s LĪF NAV, an app, a map, a coordinated path to quality of life goals. Imagine a person in need of service, “Self”. Imagine an app that allows Self to self-identify their needs of housing and circumstances. Imagine Self, being able to check in to a shelter, create a plan of action, sign-up for rapid re-housing funds. Imagine Self walking around Nashville and their phone signaling through geocaches the church that is inviting for a meal, an employer with open entry positions, a landlord with a room to let, or a friend willing to buy a neighbor a cup of coffee. Imagine Nashville offering our socially displaced neighbors the same hospitality we share with the welcomed tourist stranger amongst us. Because I can imagine it. I like to talk about it, in community, together.

The Salvation Army will be once again hosting a series of dialogues to challenge the framing of our future. A future where poverty biases are reduced, along with the hassle factors of poverty processes, and where hospitality for our socially displaced neighbors increases until it matches the hospitality of our valued tourists. The title of this series is the “Red Shield Dialogues: Is it possible?”

The Red Shield Dialogues will concentrate on reframing the future vision for Nashville and Middle Tennessee based upon extending current national best practices. This is a future-oriented series with acknowledgment of our current situation and a challenge for a collective action-oriented vision.

We will start in November with, “Is it possible?... LĪF NAV.” This is a call to believe that we can, and should, make quality of life (food, shelter, employment, housing) navigation as easy for our neighbors as we do to connect tourists to country music and gastropubs?

On December 21, from sunset to sunrise, we will continue with, “Is it possible?... To be Inconvenienced for Life.” During this longest night of the year, The Salvation Army will invite community members to be inconvenienced for an hour by joining in the conversation that can save years of life. On average those living outside of housing live shorter lives. Do we dare ask together what we can do to reduce the days of homelessness and increase the years of living?

The series will continue with “Is it possible?; ‘To Connect Data Wide Open’; ‘Stop Calling People Homeless’; ‘LĪF Nav through Tech4Good’; ‘Design Creative Conflict’; and ‘Maximize the Mission of The Salvation Army’”.

The Dialogues will once again have guests to lead the primary conversation and open meeting at The Salvation Army to consider our community’s response. The Dialogues are designed to extend ideas and challenge the mediocrity of the status quo. You are very welcome to join us in the conversation, in challenges, in the mission of meeting human needs.

Will you imagine the future with us?

Hope, the catalyst to enjoying a summer day in the fields looking for a zoo in the clouds. Let Hope be our catalyst so that faith is not expressed in our quiet prayers and polite conversation but is our lifestyle of aggressive love for our neighbors.

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Major Ethan Frizzell serves as the Area Commander of The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has been serving in Middle TN since 1890. A graduate of Harvard Kennedy School, his focus is the syzygy of the community culture, the systems of service, and the lived experience of our neighbors. He uses creative abrasion to rub people just the wrong way so that an offense may cause interaction and then together we can create behaviorally designed solutions to nudge progress. Simply, negotiating the future for progress that he defines as Quality of Life in Jesus!

Misty Ratcliff