“Where there is no community, there is no accountability.”

I say this at least once a week to a person or a group who asks about Micah 6’s work in our neighborhood.

When I say it, I am usually talking about crime.  When no one knows their neighbors, there is no one to identify you when you break into a car, bully a kid, litter.  You are essentially anonymous to your neighbors.

Several factors where I am contribute to that.  Turn-over on average is about 8 months, so if you know that you or your neighbors are not long for the block, you don’t take the time to get to know them.  Additionally, if you’re not expecting to be around long then you don’t even consider your neighborhood your home.  It isn’t where you “live” it is where you “stay.”  And since it isn’t where you plan to live long-term, but is only where you are staying short-term, there is no incentive to take care of your neighborhood or do right by it.

The result is you can commit acts of violence or acts of vandalism in broad daylight, letting someone get a clear look at your face, and have no fear of repercussions because you don’t know them and they don’t know you.

This is why we do neighborhood barbecues, because it brings our neighbors together to meet each other, see each other, have conversations with each other.  Because when that happens, you’re not anonymous any more.  You’re known.

“Where there is no community, there is no accountability.”

It is amazing how core and vital this sentence is to Micah 6 and our work, but how poorly I have done at installing it into my own life.  I came to Michigan two years ago, selling everything that I owned to get here and do what I felt like God was calling me to do.  I hit the ground running and began flexing the muscles that I had from God: service, planning, strategy, networking and connecting others.

To think of it as a neighborhood — I moved in, folks knew I was there.  But all the while I haven’t built a community of people who know me.  I had shown the ins-and-outs of who I am to functionally no one.  I was having lots of conversations with folks about big mission and the big plans and work that we felt like God was doing in the metro-area, but few (if any) real conversations about God’s work in me.

We talked a lot about broken pieces in our neighborhoods, but very little about the dark spots in myself.  We developed strategies for how to overcome systemic problems in our cities, but none for how to break out of our own cycles.

“Where there is no community, there is no accountability.”

I found myself in a dark place recently.  Its one of those places that you turn back to survey the road behind you and wonder, why was no one calling me out, pressuring me or asking me what I was doing here?  How did I get here, almost without noticing? And the most important question once you’re there, Does anyone have any wisdom to guide me out?

You see, not only was no one close enough to me to see I had drifted so far, but I wasn’t close enough to anyone to know whether they’d ever been here before.

This is the tragedy of being disconnected, no matter where you are.  This is something I hope to be working against in my neighborhood as well as my own life.


About coleyoakum

My name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: Flickr:

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