On Saturday April 14 Grace and Main Fellowship is throwing a party in a park in a blighted downtown neigborhood. We’re going to have hot dogs and ice cream, music and games. We’re going to give away stuff to folks who need it. We’re going to show love to a community that could use a good hug. We’re going to let a lot of children have a few hours of safe fun.
Well, we hope so at least.
It seems that before we can do any of that we need the government’s permission. There are lots of forms that must be filled out for lots of different departments and agencies. There are lots of rules that must be followed. So, for example, no inflatables for the kids. No amplified music.
Some bureaucrats have tried to steer us to other parks. (“Do you realize there are no shelters in that park?” “Do you realize there is police station there?” The unspoken “Do you realize that is a bad neighborhood?”).
Some look for our ulterior motive. (“So you’re calling this a celebration? What exactly are you celebrating?” “So the purpose of this is to get people to sign up for your organization?”)
Our friends who are trying to cut through the red tape just politely answer, insisting that all we’re trying to do is love our neighbors.
It all frustrates me, but I do see some poignant humor in it. There is a park in an urban community. We’re proposing that a hundred or so residents gather in the park on a spring day and have some fun. Imagine that. People in the community actually using the park in a way parks are intended to be used. What is the world coming to?
Hopefully the Man won’t nix our party. And hopefully in a few weeks, for a few hours at least, this park will be the kind of place all parks should be.