The idea of community building and practicing interactive relationships is what Frex is all about. Frex is the column that wraps up the week of writing and communicating, ministering and leading. Front Range expressions begin through invitation. All week long Brett Bixler has been inviting people to come down to his newest cafe and roaster. Brett was invited to leave his east coast business and bring it to the Front Range. Brett, his wife, Jennifer and their two children, loaded up four cars, trailers and made the trek to Colorado Springs after buying a house, finding the right space for both the roaster, warehouse and cafe. While invitation is the best place to start, there is the ebb and flow of encouragement, that flows with instinctively being aware of when you need to give people space.
Community building is nothing new to the Colorado Front Range, with the pioneer spirit, westward expansion and the challenges that face the brave souls who make the trek, even today, the harshness of the dry climate; the tweaks in machine and diet to deal with the altitude; and the steep learning curve and western attitudes all need adjusting to. One of the goals of this column is to start by building communities that are evangelical and mission minded; geared to recognizing and reaching out to special needs families and caregivers, creating, producing and distributing a healthier menu of media that feeds a hungry culture, from the community of writers, authors, songwriters and producers; a community that gathers to pray and prayer walk in their communities and business people who pray as part of the planning process.
The Front Range Community stretches from the tip-top of Colorado above Fort Collins and comes down Interstate-25 following the path of the old and new Santa Fe Trail (as well as the Goodnight-Loving Trail) In recent years the population from the foothills to the eastern plains has grown. On the east coast the spread of little villages and neighborhoods within bigger towns make up faith, marriages and family community, that is the way they were founded and incorporated.
The wrap around porch, the piece of land, the work, the home and the neighborhood happily integrated. Not that everyone had to agree on everything but the common union that holds communities together in an organic, healthy way are people who "love the Lord God with all your heart and your neighbor as you would like to be loved." The Denver talk show host Alan Berg called talk radio, "The last neighborhood," and perhaps it was. Yet new builders began putting wrap around porches where families gather and someone picks a guitar and friends and families sing. Sadly and tragically white supremacists groups gunned Berg down in front of his Congress Park home. Something he said on the radio angered these monsters enough to murder the man, ironically in a close knit neighborhood.
50,000 watt neighborhood
There are always obstacles in community building. Homeowners associations often force people to express their faith in God in a "church zone" and tolerate their neighbors, as long as they water the grass and don't have a barking dog." The thought of a man getting gunned down in front of his home, in a neighborhood who called the little mic that he spoke into everyday to solicit and encourage conversation, "the last neighborhood" is ironic. The neighborhood reached in the evening with the "50,000 watt blowtorch", this compound in the Pacific Northwest where unstable domestic terrorists planned to drive to the Congress Park neighborhood to kill their neighbor. Or at least our neighbor.
The brain behind the gun
The well connected, the Tommy Generation is upon us. People unaware of the surroundings fill their ears with ear buds; connected to their screens and even driving while texting. "Put on the eye shades, stick in the ear plugs, you know where to put the cork." People are connected just not to each other. In the words of the singer-songwriter John Prine, "So if you're walking down the street sometime, and see some hollow ancient eyes, please just, them by and stare, as if you didn't care, say hello in there-hello."
In Colorado Springs the Ministry of Leadership and Communications can be found sharing espresso drinks and watching the roasting process and meeting neighbors, friends and learning what community building is. One of our common unions is the love for coffee and fellowship. Brett Bixler and the people who work with him, invite you to get a coffee drink and when you say, "I am part of The Front Range community," and show a picture on your cell phone of the Front Range, get a 5% discount. Mission Coffee Roasters located at Voyager and Ridgeline (three blocks North of Interquest), with a great view of the Front Range. Open at 7 in the morning Monday thru Saturday, "really good coffee, with a mission." For more e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.