January 2020 – Chantel Aquart

Look and See!

5…..4….3….2….1 Happy New Year!!!

This was the phrase heard the world over just last month!  Even those who didn’t know one another shared the sentiments of happiness for a new era. With thoughts of fresh beginnings we all hoped for the best when the year turned to 2020.

So where are you now?

Do we still take time to speak to others on the street to wish them a happy day? Are you still feeling optimistic or does the pace of every day have you feeling exhausted before January even ended? Why do we think we have to wait for a holiday to celebrate?

As we all know, any day could be our last so I believe we must live each day as if it’s the first! Wake up with with a grateful heart, explore new things, take risks, be bold, be brave. Even though these are just words that could sound cliche, they must be focused on to move forward in a positive direction everyday. Each day is going to hold inevitable challenges but the daily test is to overcome them daily! How does this happen when we’re overwhelmed by being stretched thin at home, working long in our professions, and balancing everything else in between?

We put God first and G.O. Get Organized in life.

If we neglect to organize the foundation of our life it’s easy to become confused, discouraged, and give up what we are resolved to do.

What did you want this year to look like? Just know that it can happen at any moment. Once your life is organized you are prepared for the opportunities you seek. They then begin to present themselves with synchronicity! In conjunction with your spiritually, organization can allow you to find precise efficiencies in life to reach your heart‘s desires.

If youre ready to begin your life organizing journey I am here to help and serve! I work with clients in home or office to declutter, streamline, and strategize to gain efficiency and decrease stress. I’m a professional organizer and spiritual director who’s mission is to make Every Day Amazing.
I teach, coach and guide others to organize their space, mind and time so they can plan their work, work their plan and make life work. Please reach out if I can help…and Happy (not just New, but) ALL Year!!

Crave Alumna

Introducing Shelly Denmark

 

I knew the Crave community was something special the moment I entered the second floor of the East End Market. There was a sense of closeness and connection and common purpose among everyone present. It was evident from the way Michele, the Crave leaders, the Board members, the Mentors, and other support partners interacted with one another; they were deeply invested in each other’s lives as part of a spiritual, meaningful community. I have tried to capture what Crave is and what Crave does when sharing about it with other people, and yet, there’s a magical element of needing to experience the Crave community in some way for oneself in order to grasp how the Spirit is moving. I am beyond thrilled to join Crave as the Director for Crave Orlando III, and I am confident that this transformational, hope-inspired community will continue to thrive and expand to new cities in the future.

To understand why Crave had such an impact on me in that particular moment, you’d need to know a bit about my recent history. Last fall, I decided that I would take a break from serving as a pastor in a local church, starting this summer. There were many reasons for my decision, but mainly I had a hard time seeking balance in a system that oftentimes is set up for the contrary.

Underneath it all, however, I felt a holy discontent. There was something about the way we have “done church” all these years that felt like it wasn’t working anymore, nor able to carry us into a new, creative future. Some say that mainline churches in the United States are in a “Reformation” moment. Many churches are in decline with many things needing to change, but a lot of leaders aren’t sure what those necessary changes looks like. To borrow from Tod Bolsinger in Canoeing the Mountains, we are in a “Lewis & Clark” moment. We have to adapt and innovate. Enter Michele Van Son Neill and Crave.

Around the same time that I was feeling this urge to do something different for awhile and have more time to devote to my family and overall sense of wellbeing, Michele and I had a two-hour mutually-beneficial conversation. We felt a similar need to find balance as spiritual leaders and mothers, we both sensed that ways of “doing church” in the future looked radically different from the models we have now, and we were set on encouraging one another to take brave steps in order to address both of those issues. A few months later, we had another conversation, and Michele invited me to the Crave II graduation to get a better sense of an alternative way for churches to connect with people who are already transforming the world. I was hooked, especially after applause in the Crave community meant a standing ovation! And I am even more excited, having read the stories and projects of our Crave Orlando III applicants who are engaged in meaning-making work here in Orlando. I can’t wait to learn from them, support them, and journey alongside them this year!

Shelly Denmark
Director, Crave Orlando                                                                                                shelly@craveorlando.org  


#CraveFLA

 


Announcing Crave Sanford!

Next Up: Sanford!

I have long been aware that my generation gets behaving and belonging before believing (to borrow some words from the brilliant Rev. Ben Collins). I know that intimately because that is part of my own story, even in realizing I was called to ministry. If you asked me when I was 21 if I wanted to be a United Methodist pastor in a local church, after laughing at you, I would have mumbled some curse words under my breath and rolled my eyes at how irrelevant the church is in solving the world’s real problems.

25,000 kids die globally of preventable diseases and hunger every damn day.

2.5 million kids and youth experience homelessness in the US every year.

Even though the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed 50 years ago, our neighborhoods are still painfully segregated.

Fresh out of college, I worked full-time for a shelter for youth under 21, and I gave approximately zero cares about believing anything that didn’t lead to some kind of liberation for 18-year-old single parents living under bridges and in bus terminals. What I did care about though, was deeply investing my life and my passion into making the world a better place for them and for all of us.

Now I realize that’s a pretty run-of-the-mill experience for folks who have gotten burned out on organized faith, but often not on Jesus, the pursuit of a beautiful belonging, or the desire to make Good in this world.

After a few years at that shelter, I reached what is called “Compassion Fatigue” by people who know what they’re talking about and I ended up in a therapist’s chair because my best friend loved me enough to call and say, “Yeah, Richard? Its an emergency.” I realized that I would not survive without a community that literally carried me on the roughest days and a deep abiding formation that could connect me to Something Bigger than myself. That’s when I began to grasp what “the church” should be and could be: a place of belonging, formation, and enacting goodness now.

This is why I’m so excited that Crave’s next home will be in Sanford, Florida, where we can create a space to ask:

  • What does it mean to commit to a place and a people in a transient, globalized world?

  • What would it look like to gather with other folks trying to make the world a better place, even if they’re still figuring out what they believe along the way?

  • How can folks who so often create belonging for others (i.e. the world-changers gathering, growing, healing, investing, incubating, innovating) find a place of belonging for themselves?

  • How can the church invest in the big dreams of people who may never join their church but have already joined the mission to bring Goodness here, now?

We’re not sure about the answers, but we’re excited to ask these questions and more in Crave’s next cohort of spiritually curious world-changers in the best town in Central Florida: Sanford. (Try to fight me on this if you want, but you’ll see: we’re awesome).

Want to learn more? Let’s grab a coffee or a swing on the waterfront and dream together.

Meghan Killingsworth
Director, Crave Sanford
meghan@cravefla.org

#CraveFLA
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January 2019 – Sade Adeyemi

 

I spent one of my first few hours as a Crave Leader in tears. Here I was, in a room full of ambitious, established people dedicated to their respective causes and making major moves within their communities, and I, a recent grad with bright blue hair and little experience in the real world, was still figuring out my path. In this room where I sat between a nonprofit’s president and an executive director I felt like I did not fit the idea I somehow formed of who an ideal Crave Leader should be. I turned to Michele and said, “I don’t belong here. I think you made a mistake.” Nobody has ever told me so adamantly how wrong I was. She told me I seemed to hold a wisdom beyond my years, and invited me to be vulnerable. Taking an unprecedented leap of faith and embracing that vulnerability has undoubtedly been the biggest catalyst in my personal growth and self-discovery. By allowing others to intimately know me, I’ve learned so much more about myself as well. I’ve been pushed to explore what motivates me, the path that has led me to where I am now, and the steps I’ll need to take to reach my goals. I’ve been able to pinpoint my passions, and I can finally say, with more certainty than I’ve ever held, that I know who I am, and where I’m going. In the past 6 months I’ve grown out of the uncertainty that I deserved this exclusive position, and into acceptance that I am exactly where I’m meant to be right now. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and the person I have become, and the person I am striving to be every single day could not exist without the experiences I’ve had so far in Crave.

 

My mom always told me, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Through Crave, I’ve found more than just friends; I have an entire family behind me with my growth and best interest at heart. I have a mentor who has helped me to put my passion into words others can understand. I have a community of people who push me to explore thoughts I otherwise would’ve let slip away. I have leaders to look up to who are also doing the best they can, and who aren’t afraid to admit if they don’t know what they’re doing. Crave has given me more than I possibly could have anticipated. Every meeting begins with the sort of stillness you can feel within the very core of your being, and ends with a glow that reminds me I’m working toward something greater than myself. Crave reminds me that together, as a community, we are stronger, wiser and capable of so much more.

 

Michele and the rest of the Crave board saw something in me during my interviews that I couldn’t even see myself, and I couldn’t be more thankful. They recognized my craving for the greater good, and my burning desire to make a positive impact, despite being unaware of how best to apply my efforts. I have finally discovered that I am most passionate about personal development and education reform. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to grow up to reach their fullest potential, and some of the resources and knowledge needed to do so cannot be intrinsically learned, and so must be taught. I believe that this discovery is the first of many steps I’ll need to take in order to help initiate the changes necessary to make this happen. This is only the beginning.

 

 


January 2019 – Chantel Aquart

Organize – verb
     1. Arrange into a structured whole; order
        Synonyms: assemble, systemize, declutter
     2. Make arrangements of preparations for (an event or activity); coordinate
I believe that the ability to organize your life is a critical skill that should be taught to us from a young age. Knowing how to make a plan for our life, keep our personal space in order and our mind at ease while managing our daily, weekly, yearly tasks and schedules can aid in preventing enormous amounts of stress and chaos. Our lives are bombarded daily with things to do and attend to. When we have a system of organization in our life we have the opportunity for spontaneity, autonomy and adventure. Despite the amount of things crying out for our attention, being organized can lead to personal growth, meaningful relationships and a more enjoyable life.
Having clutter in our space, mind and time interrupts the flow of our life. This clutter causes chaos and slows us down weather we realize it or not. Our mental wellbeing and physical environment become unsatisfying compared to the safe havens we need them to be. The process of streamlining and organizing life can be a key factor in bringing us peace, calm and happiness. This skill is not something that we are born with and it’s not even something many enjoy doing. Thankfully there are professionals like myself and others that can work alongside you gently helping you find solutions for life’s clutter while gaining productivity and efficiency. There are also many online resources such as napo.net and challengingdisorganization.org which can give you some resources to begin the organization journey. The month of January is usually a good month to start this process although it will benefit you at any point during the year. Start small with a plan and believe in yourself that it can be done. If all else fails, call an expert for assistance.
In August of 2018 I began the incredible experience of being a Crave Leader. Since then, I have benefited greatly by making companions with other like-minded Leaders. I have received tremendous professional skill development from industry leaders as well as mentorship from caring individuals who all crave the common good. Crave is a “soulful learning container for social innovators who lead meaning-making communities” and I am so pleased to be a part of it. I have gained an extensive amount of knowledge from this experience and look forward to continued development and connections with my work, vision and mission of life organization.

December 2018 – Bill Walker

Reflecting on those matters which have contributed to shaping my life to its present state, I begin with my family of origin, in which I was the only child born of a remarkable couple who were bright, loving, caring, industrious Methodists and whose first concern was others, rather than themselves. Throughout our joint lives they modeled those values, along with Boy Scouting and Rotary. Those institutions not only enriched my life, they set forth models of behavior and core values and disciplines which throughout my life served to guide and hold before me values of the highest order.
We seem to be in one of those times in history in which our culture is awash with change, and in which the direction of change is unclear. Perhaps it is a time in which we have thrown out the bathwater and are unclear what happened to the baby which was in it! That is, we are collectively casting aside that which we knew was useful, albeit imperfect, with no collective clarity as to what will replace. When I think of those institutions which amidst the communities I have lived, I am not clear who I would be without their influence. I am reaching the end of my life, but my children and grandchildren “have miles to go” and out of my devotion to them and their best interests I want to contribute meaningful to the transition, as denying it is futile.
Crave is seeking to form itself as a helpful thing to one important group of this new world, and that is leaders who crave a deeper understanding of themselves and who wish to participate in forming the modeling of the new world what will aid themselves and others to thrive in spiritual health, perhaps the essential component of a leader.
If you would like to learn more or wish to join in supporting the next generation of spiritual leadership and belonging, I welcome you to reach out to me directly via email and follow Crave’s journey on social media at @CraveFLA.
Bill Walker
Founding Board Member
Crave, Inc.

November 2018 – Frank Bailey, Jr.

My name is Frank Bailey, Jr. and I CRAVE to make the world a better place by teaching life skills through plant cultivation with Grow Orlando. We hire disadvantaged youth and teach them how to harvest their seeds of potential and become Stewards of Creation. While cultivating food and taking our students through classes of finance, personal and professional development, I didn’t know (but soon found out) was that my organization CRAVE’d for me to be a better person with the tact and foresight of a leader still packed away in my own seeds of potential. As I hack and strike at my internal earth to plant my seeds of potential, I uncovered people and programs that embraced my torrential struggles of breakthrough and nourish my CRAVE for growth with cultivation tips – and what a trip it’s been. Here’s a snapshot of CRAVE how it’s impacted my life:

When our spiritual formation gathers

Fellow leaders join me in our spiritual place

A place of vulnerability and love in peace

Knowing our latter lives will rise in grace

We center our souls in the Spirit of Trust

Hoping our scattered minds will collect themselves

And through each other’s joys and pains we find unity in growth.

What a blessing for God to invite the Universe to conspire in His favor in our lives for the betterment of others

Social change-makers

Collectively going through professional transformation

And like good samaritans

Our path is intertwined with supporters CRAVEing to see us grow and succeed

Finding time for us in their busy lives to satiate our CRAVE for a better world

My samaritan’s name is Tom,

And our talks grow peace and calm in the mindstorm of my entrepreneurial pursuits.

It suits my cause to change lives through food,

He extends his arm, and helps me pursue stronger connections with game-changing relationships

He equips, converses and strips down the barriers I once faced alone,

Where one was weak, we are strong.

I thank Michele and the CRAVE board for buying into the success of people like me who want to see a better world,

But must first unfurl the embetterment of self.

With you, we are receiving:

Clarity in strategy,

Reassurance in individuality,

Abundance in opportunity,

Virtue in community, and

Eternal love through the family culture created through CRAVE.

Ask, and you shall receive.

I asked for wisdom to carry out God’s deeds here on Earth and I was sent CRAVE.

I pray for love, peace, and purpose for you, dear reader

And I hope you consider Making CRAVE a part of your future.

Your Friend,

Frank

P.S. If you don’t believe in God, it’s okay

I’ve found equal ground

I believe God is Love, so if you wish you can switch all of the words that say God and change it to Love.

Blessings to You.


Crave Is My Church

My parents raised me in church.

Potluck Wednesday suppers where mayonnaise was the primary ingredient of every dish.  Ladies with big hats who smelled of rose water and hugged too tightly. Fearlessly exhausted Sunday school volunteers who tried to make ancient, strange stories relevant. Playground time, butter cookies in tin cans, and parents who talked too long in the parking lot.

Church was a gift. It was intimate, safe, and above all it was loving.

Thirty years later, I long for these gifts, but our fast-paced, YouTube soundbite, UberEats life enhancements are hard to enjoy served up with mass shootings, genocide (still), and a painfully polarized nation.

I don’t want to “go to” church anymore. I want to be church. I want my home to be church where we feel intimate, safe, and loved. I want our family to be a light to others — whether it is our neighbor, a teacher, an employee, a refugee from Venezuela, or a youth in Naivasha, Kenya.

Here’s the hard truth I try not to think about: I can’t give my kids the intimacy, safety and love of a faith community the way my parents did. I have to do it another way, because the very thing that grounded my being doesn’t seem to anchor us anymore.

Here’s what I do know we need:

Divine Wisdom and Experiences

Especially the miraculous life-giving and faith-developing stories of God and God’s people, contained in (especially for me) the Bible. Also, in equal measure and power, the Koran, the Torah, Harry Potter, Star Wars, This Is Us, Instagram posts from The Rock, and other inspired God-breathed art. Sunsets, walks in the woods, hope in the face of everything lost, puppies, babies, and really old people in love.

Real Community

The kind of community where people struggle with faith. People who lead incredible life changing projects and admit to having no idea what they’re doing. People who sometimes cuss at their kids and sometimes channel the Holy Spirit in perfect measure. People who are further down the road in work, marriage, citizenry, parenting, and caring for elderly parents. People who still struggle after all these years to really understand forgiveness. People who can patiently and vulnerably explain something I don’t understand. People who are willing to do the gut-wrenching work to mourn together when life royally inexplicably sucks and party together until the sun comes up when life is miraculously and inexplicably is amazing.

A Bridge

Without effort, I will live my life with people just like me and miss Heaven completely. I need to know others who make me nervous or scared or mad. Not just serve them, read about them, and pray for them, but have a relationship with them. This will allow me see and experience and believe that I am them and they are me and God is alive and working in all of us. Socio-economic differences, political differences, racial differences, generational differences, religious differences — there is a lot that may seem to separate us. But the whole world, not only who or what is in my immediate circle, is God’s creation and I need the courage and encouragement and introductions to be in and love all of it. I desperately want to learn that, do that, and most importantly model it for my children.

Attending church without these three things (wisdom, community, bridges) becomes poor stewardship and a waste of time. If our church isn’t doing these three things, then I don’t need to “go to” church. But, for the sake of my soul and the sake of the world, I do need to be church.

Crave is where this happens because these Leaders who join in share divine wisdom, engage in real community, and embody bridge work. They are connected to their source, to one another, and to their purpose. I am so grateful to be pastored by these young Leaders who have dedicated their lives to changing the world. By simply being in their company, God is changing me.

If any of this resonates with you, your life, or your faith journey, then let’s grab a cup of coffee and consider what’s next. God is obviously up to something good.

Michele Van Son Neill
Founder
Crave, Inc.


October 2018 – Dylan McCain Allen

Our home is vibrant as it is complex, which is why collaboration is necessary to get our neighborhoods ready for just about anything. The Pulse Nightclub Shooting and 2017 Hurricanes brought communities together like never before, but disjointed funding efforts and duplicated services made it hard to effectively align community needs with assets. A Gift For Teaching moved past its “business as usual” to elevate how the educationally-disadvantaged are supported and joined a growing coalition of socially-driven organizations and businesses, service-providing not-for-profits, and government agencies to coordinate grassroots-informed, regionally-strategized action plans that will quickly activate disaster restoration, convene philanthropic cooperation, and get our region back up to speed in any situation.

Following the ideas of Collective Impact, purposeful collaboration can transform the way human services tackle some of the other extremely complex challenges in our region. Rapidly growing homelessness tied to low wages and an affordable housing crisis, health disparities tied to economic inequities and racial biases, and devastatingly-high rates of human trafficking underscore that Central Florida’s greatest problems are far worse than traffic on I-4. Collective impact provides hope to communities that have been swamped with philanthropic dollars yet seen little change or neighborhoods that have accepted outside support and received emigration-forcing gentrification. If the social sector can move towards organizational alignment (rather than programmatic partnerships) and focus on ultimate outcomes (for example: end food-insecurity rather than hunger), then our everyday lives will be dramatically transformed for the better. However, this requires immense change by the leaders.

One unique thing about Crave is that it’s already full of inspired and activated individuals. The need isn’t to show its participants the possibilities to find their Ikigai because they already have the idea—they see the light at the end of the tunnel. The challenge is navigating the labyrinth. The other unique part about Crave is that is transcends leadership and skill development to also incorporate the person and their spiritual motivations as the driving powers of the operation. Unveiling the internal, hidden, and powerful forces that guide our raison d’être sets us free to see our missions in a more universal truth that is grounded by what makes us who we are. Leveraging my strengths in connecting seemingly-disparate people and ideas, learning everything I can about the world, ideating new ways to solve complex challenges, arranging processes into a better flow, and an admiration for mental exercises and intellectual pursuits will augment my ability to bring a community together and target its assets towards greater impact. Let’s work together, Central Florida—strategically, meaningfully, and sustainably.

A special thanks to the Central Florida Foundation, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, and the Donors Forum of Central Florida for being the catalyst of coordinated disaster response. Also a special thanks to the First United Methodist Church of Winter Park and the Crave team for this opportunity not just given to me, but to Central Florida.

Dylan McCain Allen
A Gift for Teaching, Orlando YNPN


Crave II Orlando Kickoff

Crave II Orlando has begun!

As strangers, Orlando-based social innovators gathered for an overnight retreat to begin the work of vulnerably sharing our stories, hearts, and dreams with one another. Desire for belonging and safety produced regular laughter, connection, and collective contagious creative hopefulness. The new Crave Leaders’ courage and passion made that Something More (God, Vibration, Source) so undeniably palpable in our shared experience and space.

After learning our strengths, identifying our values and expectations of belonging, and selecting our learning opportunities for the year ahead, the Crave Advisory Board began to arrive for our shared feast.

Among the 17 of us (Crave I & II Orlando and the Advisory Board) the room oscillated between raucous laughter and intense conversation about the new projects for the common good which are at the heart of Crave.

Education, LGBTQ+ advocacy and support, life skills, and community impact are the primary mission areas of focus for our Leaders this year. There is so much to discover and develop together. We hope you will journey with us throughout the coming year by reading our blogs, following us on social media @CraveFLA, and getting directly involved by reaching out to me michele@cravefla.org.

Light always and ultimately overcomes the darkness. Crave exists to nourish and spread that Light.

Michele Van Son Neill
Founder
Crave, Inc.