Ben Schnell
Blog

Champion a Cause

Holidays are always a great time for reflection for me and this season is no different. My personal mission statement is to love and provide for my family, belong and contribute to a community, and champion a cause. As I reflect upon back on my life so far, I had a sense of purpose and fulfillment with these 3 elements in place.

Some may think that a personal mission statement is some kind of corny self-help B.S. It doesn’t bother me if you think that. I know people (my wife Natalie included) who have a strong intuitive sense of direction and purpose and don’t need to write it down in a statement. I tend to need to identify in explicit terms what a lot of people understand implicitly. I’ve learned this about myself and have come to embrace it.

As my mission statement is somewhat broad, I’m working on establishing some specifics. The community I belong to is the Quaker group here in Chattanooga. I’m doing my best to belong and contribute. The last big question mark about my mission statement is the cause to champion.

Natalie and I recently went under contract for a house in Red Bank that looks like it’s going to work out. If the sale does go through I’ve been thinking of championing a cause that builds community in the area. One idea I had was for a “Quaker Center for the Arts.” The thinking is that I would rent space on Dayton Boulevard and have an artists collaborative space and an “Inner Light Gallery” to display and sell the work of the artists. The funding model would be charging an affordable monthly amount for artists to use and collaborate in the space. Another idea I really like that was suggested by Natalie would be a membership based family community center. Below are a the type of services we imagine the community center could provide:

  • Community potlucks
  • Children activities for stay-at-home moms
  • Mother’s day out
  • Movie night
  • Childcare so parents can go on dates
  • Game nights
  • Co-working space
  • Coffee shop
  • Library
  • Playground
  • Dog park
  • Exercise facilities
  • Basketball, volleyball, soccer
  • Craft and art classes

The funding model for this idea would be monthly or yearly memberships. Basically I want a place where people can just stop by and there will always be something going on. I want a place where people don’t have to buy a like a coffee or a beer to just hang out and make friends. I feel like society is isolated and it should be easier to connect. Coffee shops tend to close early and bars aren’t kid friendly. This community center would be another attempt at the third space concept while attempting to have a lower barrier to entry.

Things are merely in the brainstorming stage. I need to let these ideas season at least until the home purchase is successful (closing is scheduled for December 8). I would also have to see if Chattanooga Friends Meeting would be on board.

Whatever happens, I’m reflecting and praying and looking forward to researching the options, networking, looking at spaces to rent, making presentations, and getting a clearer sense of the cause I’m meant to champion. If I make progress I’ll post status updates on this blog.