Friday, October 28, 2005

Thrivent Builds Mobile in Pittsburgh

Thrivent Builds Mobile outside the David L. Lawrence Conventions Center, PittsburghThe big red truck I've been writing about here and here is more than just a pretty logo. Today I was privileged to volunteer to support its presence outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, where it was parked in the Alco Parking Lot at the corner of Penn and 10th Avenues in the heart of the Pittsburgh Cultural District.

Doorway that opens on the experience of poverty housingThe 48-foot truck is a museum on wheels, a "mobile education unit," containing a moving (literally and figuratively) multimedia experience to inform visitors about the conditions and consequences of poverty housing, as well as the difference it makes for families to find their way out of poverty housing through participation in Habitat for Humanity. One enters the exhibit at the back through a weathered door that foreshadows the experience inside.

This educational exhibit is a project of Thrivent Builds, which is a partnership of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans with Habitat for Humanity. The partnership intends to build $105 million in new housing over the next four years.

volunteers in front of the exhibit as seen from corner of Penn and TenthVolunteers at the exhibit understandably included an excellent representation of Lutherans, but there were also Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and United Methodists among the volunteers from the three local sponsoring affiliates of Habitat for Humanity. Today there were also some students from Duquesne University present to help out.

The exhibit was right across the street from WAMO, and we had some visits from people connected with that radio station. This is one more reason why Habitat loves WAMO.

volunteers at the Thrivent Builds Mobile in PittsburghThe day started out cold and overcast with occasional drops of rain. My job today was to encourage the passing pedestrians to visit the exhibit. Armed with tiny handbills I walked back and forth along Penn Avenue near the exhibit to let people know what the big red truck was all about, and that there were free hot dogs and popcorn at the tents outside the exhibit. By about the middle of the four hour event I was pretty chilled and then greatly relieved when the sun started to break through the clouds.

Trying to talk to passersby was a good experience for me. Some people tried hard to avoid eye contact. Most were in a rush; after all, this was Friday, and they certainly had end-of-week deadlines they had to meet. If you were one of the people who didn't have time to talk to me, please know that I have been in your situation. I myself don't always have time to talk to people when I am trying to get somewhere. You did not offend me and I hope that my attempts to inform you were not intrusive. I had a number of positive conversations with people, and even many of the people who could not stop to talk let me know that they appreciated the work that Habitat does.

The exhibit will be in the same location on Saturday, October 29, 2005 from 11:30 to 3:30 PM. After that it will be packed up and head off towards its next stop, which is Austin, Texas. Yinzers need to be aware that Saturday will be their last chance for a while to see this exhibit. If you're free on Saturday, don't miss it!

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