If I asked people about the number of times a day they eat, I bet the average answer would be two to three times. I would challenge that response. I would argue that in a country such as America, most people eat 100 times that often. The way I see it, food can be seen as including any substance we allow our bodies to consume for sustainability. Beyond the food we regularly put in our mouths to satisfy our stomachs, we consume every time we walk past advertisements, listen to our favorite music, watch a movie or read the daily headlines. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram serve as mere appetizers for the smorgasbord of media that surrounds us everyday. It’s amazing to live in the information age with access to so much at our fingertips, but it also can be overwhelming. Trying to decide among the choices can become daunting and even dangerous. It is important that we become more mindful of what is being offered.
Isn’t it funny how people get in the habit of monitoring the media consumption of children but never really think twice about their own media diet? They often assume that because they’ve reached a certain age, they don’t need to monitor their media consumption.
As a community journalist and graduate student of theology (the study of the nature of God and religious belief), I’m a firm believer in not only being conscious of negative things you may consume in the media but also being intentional about consuming more positive things. This notion isn’t just a random lofty idea, it’s also biblical. Think of Philippians 4:8, which counsels us to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Beyond biblical doctrine, we’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” The craving of your soul for nourishment surpasses that of your physical body. What do you feed your soul? I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, a city burdened not only with economic deprivation but also with spiritual deprivation. For this reason, I have dedicated my career to focus on the positive things by reporting the good news taking root in various communities. It is my deep belief that positive input leads to positive outcomes.
As I was starting my internship at Street Sense, someone asked me if I was aware that Street Sense is not a faith-based organization and that although the headquarters is located in a church, the organization itself is not a ministry because people involved aren’t required to talk about God or discipleship. I understood this person’s concern because I believe they genuinely wanted to make sure I didn’t waste my entire summer interning at a place that wasn’t fit for a studying seminarian poised to explore how media connects with faith. I politely challenged that assumption, offering the following reasons why Street Sense is definitely the place for me.
#1 Street Sense promotes community relationships. Being in seminary, one of the main things I’ve learned about God is that beyond doctrine, God cares about relationships. Our personal relationship with God is important, but our relationships with other people are equally important. As the world of news consumption changes, society is getting further and further away from the importance of local news. Consequently, we lose an intimacy of understanding our neighborhors and neighborhoods better. Street Sense is a publication dedicated entirely to improving our relationships in the place we call home. Community meetings, new small businesses, and stories of achievement matter.
#2 Street Sense elevates one of the most prevalent issues in D.C.–homelessness. If we are going to truly follow God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves, we have got to care about housing access for all people. Street Sense keeps this at the forefront of its mission and also gives people experiencing financial hardship an opportunity to be economically empowered through the sale of the paper.
#3 Street Sense promotes restoration and rejuvenation through the artistic expression of writing. In this case, art and creativity serve as the healing agents for the community. The paper gives a platform for people to share their hopes, dreams, concerns and their stories. This communication vehicle now functions as a voice for a population of people that are often overlooked and ignored. In the coming weeks, I hope to use this column to highlight stories of personal triumph, extraordinary ministries making strides in the city and underreported observations of the positive things taking root in the community. The point of it all is for us to begin to appreciate the smaller but more nourishing things we often overlook in our fast-paced lives.
Jazmine Steele is a multimedia journalist and Urban Fellow pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. She blogs at Nobaddnews.com and randomly tweets @JazzSteele. Email her your good news at [email protected].