July 2020 – Brian Vann

Endings and Beginnings

With the third year of Crave coming to an end, we celebrate the two Crave Leader graduating cohortsone from Orlando and one from Sanford. The Crave program runs from August to June so this year’s classes completed the Crave curriculum during a most unprecedented time in our country’s history. As all non-profits do, these leaders had to overcome the challenges COVID-19 employed. They did so with integrity, character, perseverance, and determination. As they grew, so did all the individuals who make up the Crave Universe. With the third year in the books, we are excited to begin year four!  

The fourth year brings excitement, but also sadness. The third year marked the end of the tenure for some of our board members. We are saddened to see these friends and colleagues roll off the board. Even though they are no longer on the board, their legacy will be felt for a long time to come. Some of these individuals helped start Crave while others shaped it into what Crave is today. We pray for their present and continued support while staying within the Crave Universe.   

Thank you to outgoing Orlando council members Tom Harris, Adam Hartnett, Jon Tschanz, Rick Jones, Kelsey Kerce, Sarah Skidmore, Tonya Tolson, and Karen Weatherford. Thank you to outgoing Sanford council members Pasha Baker, Nancy Groves, Jolene Lovemore, Erin O’Donnell, and Tom Royal.

The fourth year marks a critical time in the growth of the Crave organization. The organization is no longer a start-up as it begins its growth stage. The growth we are experiencing afforded us the opportunity to expand our leadership. We now operate with an Advisory Council of Orlando and a Board of Directors. We are thankful to welcome many new members of both the Advisory Council and the Board of Directors. These individuals are some of the most influential in our community. We are working on some amazing projects such as creating a certificate program for the Crave curriculum. We are blessed to welcome a new group of social change makers to our fourth year Crave Leader cohort. These individuals are dynamic, intelligence, and inspirational. 

Welcome new board members Faith Buhler, Gina Dole, Woody Rodriguez, and Jarvis Wheeler; and council members Chantel Aquart, Blu Bailey, Katie Brown, Terri Hartman, Stephanie Preston-Hughes, and Katrina Jackson,

I am excited to kickoff a new Crave year!

Brian Vann, Chair of the Crave Board of Directors


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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February 2018 – Caitlin White

As the youngest person on the Crave advisory board, I look a lot more like a Crave Leader than your traditional “board member.” Good news: this is no traditional board! The team of advisors and mentors that help to guide the vision of Crave is as alive with innovation, spiritual curiosity, and entrepreneurship as any I’ve experienced, so it was a natural choice to include many young leaders on the team that would shape this incubator for other Millenials.

Crave is rooted in the knowledge that age never defines wisdom, just like religious affiliation never defines true spiritual connection. From founder Michele Van Son to our advisors, from Crave’s current Leaders to community partners, everyone at Crave is on a journey of self-development, listening, and spiritual awakening.

As a young, female pastor who likes to stay on the leading edge of spiritual innovation, I got involved with Crave because it breaks the old mold and the established rules. Conventionally, churches and religious groups “support the local community” by offering a service they can control or by giving resources to efforts they can approve of (and eventually colonize). Often this results in a bait and switch: the church gives to the community in hopes of connecting with new people, evangelizing them, and teaching them about spirituality. Crave does the opposite. We believe that something good, life-giving, and inherently spiritual is already at work when people do meaningful work, meet needs in their community, and gather people around common purpose. So we say, “Look at that inspiring thing you are doing. Please come evangelize us to your way of thinking. Teach us something new. Help us to meet the needs of the people around us like you do.”

For people who are used to the old paradigm, this takes a huge leap of faith and a ton of courage. I learned one of my most important lessons in business and leadership when I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail: the difference between scary and dangerous.

Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams Brewery, gives the example that rappelling of a cliff is incredibly scary but totally safe. Whereas, skiing across a melting snow field on a sunny day in May is not scary but incredibly dangerous – that’s a recipe for an avalanche, fellow Floridians!

Many of the great entrepreneurs of our time have a background in outdoor recreation and endurance athletics. These pursuits teach lessons that are particularly useful to innovators. I suspect this is because social and business entrepreneurship, just like outdoor recreation, is about risk management, not risk elimination. You can’t control everything. If you did, you’d never be inspired.

The success of innovators, whether in business, community organizing, community building or religion, will hinge on our ability to discern the difference between scary and dangerous — and to guide others through that discernment. Crave puts people in relationships where we explore that line together. Molli Miller, whom I mentor, also mentors me right back. She keeps me connected to fierce bravery by stepping out of her teaching career to start a surf school, to inspiring others through therapeutic athletic experiences and experiential learning, and to transformative vision as she builds a business that is more about giving back to people’s lives than realizing profit.

We need all need community where we can have courageous conversations and relationships with co-conspirators for the journey, and that is the exchange at the heart of Crave.

Caitlin White
Advisory Board Member, Mentor
Crave, Inc.