Seventeen and a half years ago, my wife Lara and I, along with our 11-month-old baby, moved into The Simple Way neighborhood. As we drove down Westmoreland with dreams of intentional community and a desire to change the world, we couldn’t get down the block. It was blockaded as a result of a drug bust.
I’ll never forget my father-in-law turning toward me and asking, Does this always happen?
I replied, Who knows? I’ve never lived here before!
Immediately upon our arrival, I took our toddler on walks in the neighborhood, and we met many people. I quickly learned that the greatest security system you can have in the hood is to get to know your neighbors!
As we invested in the neighborhood, we developed relationships with people in our church and in the community. The romanticism of our move to the city and our life in intentional community quickly faded. But those first couple years with The Simple Way stretched us, and we learned the importance of being a neighbor.
Long story short, my wife Lara is now a community health nurse visiting at-risk moms and babies in Kensington and Frankford neighborhoods. And I am working with Timoteo Sports, a mentoring program in the neighborhood. Our toddler is now an 18-year-old woman in her final year of high school. And we have also been raising her 15 and 11-year-old sisters.
The greatest joy we have is to see the values our children hold as a result of living in Philly. To see our kids have a heart for justice and to see them embrace people different from themselves. We are grateful for our time with The Simple Way and our time in Philly.
– Chris Lahr