Showing posts from June, 2010

Grace and Consequences

“He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 1 Samuel 3:19, NIV If we went around the table at Bud’s Warehouse discussing how this verse from the Old Testament makes us thankful, there would be no shortage of conversation. In my experience, individuals rebuilding lives from prison have a heightened awareness of God’s love and care for each of them. So, one by one, stories would be shared of how people were thankful for an ability to trust God and how he brought good into their lives. But if we backed up and looked at the preceding chapters 2 and 3 in 1st Samuel, the discussion would become more difficult. These great words of faith and trust were spoken by the priest Eli after the young boy Samuel received a rather dramatic call from the Lord and a troubling message from God: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning

The Wackiness of Combining Faith and Commercial Real Estate

When a faith venture starts to look for commercial real estate, it's going to be messy. At least that's been my experience over the last 11 years at Belay Enterprises . For some reason--and it has something to do with combining faith and real estate--I have all sorts of crazy stories about trying to secure space for our various projects. There's the time we started moving into a new warehouse for Bud's Warehouse after completing a lease agreement only to discover that one of the neighboring tenants had a first right of refusal on the property. And he wasn't a very nice person. So we moved on and discovered an even better space which we still inhabit to this day. Over the years at Bud's Warehouse, I have often joked that we have made a habit of preceding future loft developments. We have had to move from two prior warehouse locations because of the development of lofts. Bud’s moved from another location because of the development of a business complex.

Friday Free Enterprise Videos

U.S. Chamber of Commerce just held an "I am Free Enterprise" video contest for entrepreneurs. Watch these videos and be inspired. I especially like how in the first video, Carlos Sanchez links his business with helping his disadvantaged neighborhood. If you follow this blog, you know I am passionate about faith ventures: businesses that create opportunity for individuals or communities rebuilding lives. All three of these stories tell of how business opportunities grew out of individual experiences. It's always been my hope to inspire others to seize opportunity in their day to day life to help people and neighborhoods through urban business as mission.

American Untouchables?

My favorite blogger on ex-offender employment issues had an interesting post on felons as the new “untouchables class” last week. Kathleen Murray wrote about an interview on NPR’s Tell Me More show with Michelle Alexander about her new book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Murray shared: What jumped out at me was her reference to caste. We here in America like to think of ourselves as living in the land of equal opportunity, I know. But this particular term is one that’s come up a lot in my discussions about the offenders and the criminal justice system, lately. An offender turned reentry advocate I talked to a while back put it even more bluntly: “I think we as humans need an untouchable class. Before it was race that held people down, now it’s that you’re branded and ostracized because you’re an ex-offender.” Are ex-offenders the new “Untouchables”? I would answer yes. But like Kathleen Murray, I would also add that it is a matter of

The Case of the Missing Truck

The Bud’s Warehouse donation truck was missing in action. Our donation coordinator, Lanny, had been calling the truck for several hours that day 9 years ago with no success in reaching our driver. At the same time, frustrated product donors were informing us that our truck was not arriving as promised. We had a problem. Lanny and I jumped in our cars and started driving around to see if we could find our truck. About an hour later, he found it abandoned in the middle of 225. We were barely able to start it and drove it straight to the mechanic. I later found out that our driver stopped for lunch and made some bad personal choices. The truck then mysteriously broken down. The mechanics later told us they had never seen anything like this. Some silicon had clogged the fuel line and shut down the truck. We had to let our truck driver go. It is always upsetting when one of our program participants, seeking to rebuild a life from prison, addiction or homelessness, has to be droppe