Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

My New Book – Chapter One, Part Five


Chief Visionary Officer

Kevin Ford, Chief Visionary Officer, TAG Consulting

East Lake Meadows would be a model community, full of hard-working, law-abiding folks who looked out for one another. The residents would be a testament to the belief – the fact – that predictable cycles of poverty and crime and despair are not inevitable.

To help make the vision a reality, Cousins plowed his own money into a new organization – the East Lake Foundation – designed to provide common ground to the diverse parties who were necessary to the project. The Foundation’s goal was to “help transform the East Lake neighborhood and create new opportunities for the families that live there”. Community “redevelopment” was a common phrase in 1995. But the East Lake vision was more about community recreation.

Cousins assembled a dream team of partners to bring about the re-creation. There were public partners (the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta municipal government, the Atlanta Public Schools, and a critical grant from the U.S. government), private partners (Emory University, Oglethorpe University, the Publix grocery store chain, the YMCA) and financial partners (SunTrust and Wells Fargo banks). Most importantly of all, there were the residential partners in East Lake Meadows itself.

The once skeptical Eva Davis began to spend time with Cousins and his family and, in her own words, “came to love them”. Traditional economic and racial boundaries began to dissolve as she saw that he really cared about her neighborhood and its people and, significantly, had the power and influence to actually bring change. Eva Davis began to leverage her influence to do the unthinkable – persuade her neighbors to move into temporary housing so that the dilapidated buildings of East Lake Meadows could be transformed into the Villages of East Lake. And, slowly, the transformation began to happen.
More to come…


3 Responses to “My New Book – Chapter One, Part Five”

  1. Okay – you got me hooked – what happened next? What is happening now in that neighborhood?
    How can a 20 month old church which meets in a movie theater which sits between cultures (rich/poor- hispanic/anglo – title one elementary school/suburban model high school in next zone) be an agent of transformation?

    And what does God want me to do as a leader of that 20 month old church?

    When does the next installment of the blog come out? When is the book due? What is the leadership triangle? I am waiting to find out.

    • Your church is in a great location to become an agent of transformation! Keep reading, and you’ll get the basic idea of the leadership triangle over the next couple of months. My book is still in the proposal stage, so be patient. The short answer to your question is that the type of leadership required changes based on the context and the type of challenge you’re facing. Given the competing values of the two communities that you are in, your church can function as a facilitator. One of my clients is Truro Church, in Fairfax VA. A very wealthy community and an historic church. They are doing a worship service for about 250 homeless people on Sundays. The city is really ticked off because they view the homeless (who are traveling in) as a security threat. Anyway, that’s an example of competing values. The church must create the opportunity for that kind of dialogue to occur.

      • Thanks for the insight – I am enjoying the book so far – I am interested in how the story of East Lake Meadows turns out. We have reached out to our community through Angel Food, Food boxes, and helping the local school. It is an exciting journey. Hope the book proposal goes well.

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