We are now three days into our week-long orientation, and to be totally honest, I wish I was back home. Not home in Alabama, or home in Ohio, but Indiana, my Indiana. I haven’t even moved into my house yet, and I already consider Indy my home. Outside of places I’ve actually lived, Indianapolis is the city I’ve spent the most time in over the years. I feel like I know the city, and I know the people. I feel anchored there, in a way I really don’t feel here at orientation. I know that what we’re doing here is important, and I know that we’re building community that helps sustain us. But I’m ready to get started. I want to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
We’re headed into the city tomorrow. We’re supposed to learn something from this experience, though I’m not sure what. It seems like all the groups are headed to gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods. The East Village is our designated spot, and I will admit I’m somewhat excited to maybe catch a glimpse of punk rock history.
We have to be here for such a long time, and our days are so long. I know it’s preparation for our YAV year, but it strikes me as a little more intense than is necessary. Maybe my attitude will change once I get off this campus and into the city. Further updates to come!
Edit: We came back from the city, and I came back with some things to think on. The others in my group all said they felt like they were intruding on a space that didn’t belong to them, when we were walking through primarily non-white neighborhoods and parks. Maybe it’s male privilege, but I’ve never felt like I was unwelcome to exist in a public space. I understand that there are certain places that aren’t for me, but I never considered that those would include city streets and public parks. I certainly don’t feel like those are spaces that belong to me, but I don’t feel guilty about existing in them.
And when we came back to debrief, two of the groups came in bashing Riverside Church. Now Riverside may be affluent, but they’re definitely on the side of the good guys. Riverside has been at the forefront of every major social justice campaign of the past 80 years. They’ve given their platform to Dr. King, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Every social initiative that a church can be involved in, Riverside is there. If you’re looking for enemies, there are plenty of real ones. You don’t have to invent one out of Riverside.