Bill Strickland and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild

Categories:Ideas, People, Story
Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Last year at about this time, we felt the spirit move. Kirstin and I were listening to a presentation by Bill Strickland of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild at the annual Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh and an idea began to take shape.
Strickland shared his amazing story, from growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh to creating a world-class community center that transforms the lives of kids and families in that same neighborhood. He spoke of bringing beauty into the inner-city and giving kids his prescription for thriving: sunlight, affection and good food.
His story isn’t some pie-in-the-sky liberal do-gooding; he’s driven to see kids live into their deep potential so this country can solve some of its most entrenched social problems. And he’s got the statistics to show that his program is working. When almost 50% of students of color are drop out of high school, over 90% of the students in his program graduate. He has training programs teaching welfare mothers how to be gourmet chefs, horticulturalists and pharmaceutical technicians–the same women who have been told time and time again that they aren’t worth anything. It’s amazing what a little sunlight and attention can do for the human spirit.
A few months later, we took the leap of faith that is the Imagining Space project. We have a long way to go and our project will look a lot different than Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, but a lot of the underlying motivation is similar. We want to create a beautiful space for the people of Three Rivers and for students around North America, cultivating opportunities to transform this community and others toward abundant flourishing. With your help, I’m pretty sure we can do it … we’ll just need to be patient and keep pressing on toward the goal!
I’d highly recommend watching Strickland’s lecture below. Unfortunately, the photos he’s showing during the presentation didn’t make it into the video; however, the story is still inspiring to hear. Just imagine what we might be able to do in Three Rivers!