The Piedmont Patch Project

img_7929The Piedmont Patch Project: Restoring Native Flora of the Piedmont One Patch of Piedmont at a Time

The people of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate have a dream. Since moving onto our scruffy 15-acre site in 2014, we have been working to transform it into a place of hospitality, worship, and contemplation, and a regional resource for collaborative social ministry and the arts. In 2015, The Advocate began collaborating with individuals and organizations outside the church to host three “tiny homes” on our site, for individuals who would otherwise be homeless (PeeWeeHomes.org ). Now we are beginning a second collaboration, the Piedmont Patch Project, to restore native flora and fauna displaced by the rapid urbanization surrounding the property, and to cultivate keepers of Creation.

The Piedmont Patch project will transform five acres of our site into a food-producing and natural habitat, create a network of involved neighbors and provide numerous opportunities to educate and engage people of all ages and backgrounds. We believe that in deepening connections with creation and with our community, mindfully tending and keeping the land and teaching others to do the same, we will honor God.

We imagine the Advocate Pond and grounds enriched with diverse well-adapted native plants that will attract and nurture an array of wildlife, including butterflies, bees, birds, frogs, turtles, and small mammals. Surrounded by rapid urbanization, the Church of the Advocate’s acreage can serve as a sanctuary for homeless wildlife increasingly displaced by bulldozers, asphalt, and concrete. Over time, such native plantings require less maintenance than traditional ornamental plantings, most of which do not meet the needs of native wildlife.

The project has an educative component, engaging school children and graduate students and inviting all who are responsible for patches of Piedmont land to learn how to create vibrant native sanctuaries that serve rather than harm God’s creation. Ideally, we can lead other congregations and other neighborhoods to adopt this concept of native sanctuaries, building refuges of hope for native wildlife and havens of peace and beauty for humans one patch of piedmont (and beyond!) at a time. The Project will also include education on invasive exotic species and their removal — why it is important, how it contributes to sustainability.

The Piedmont Patch Project is grounded in a belief that the environment and our natural resources will be better sustained, and even thrive, as organizations and individuals work to cultivate one patch at a time. The Project is envisioned as a collaborative effort of the church, the town, the NC Botanical Gardens, and individuals with knowledge and skills to share, such as Cathy Bollinger of The Piedmont Gardener.

We hope the Piedmont Patch Project (like the Pee Wee Homes Collaborative) will serve as prototypes that can be scaled and replicated in a variety of church, public, and private settings.

Here’s and article about native and non-native wildflowers and bees.

The Piedmont Patch Project — Saturday, January 28 @10AM

img_7929The Piedmont Patch Project: Building Sanctuaries One Patch of Piedmont at a Time

Introductory Presentation and Conversation
Led by Cathy Bollinger and the Vicar
Saturday, January 28
10 AM at the Advocate

The People of the Advocate know how much our commitment to maintain the Advocate Pond means to the surrounding community; it welcomes and encourages them to continue to use this special spot. But from an ecological perspective, the pond’s setting is less welcoming to non-human natives. We can change that.

Imagine the Advocate Pond and grounds enriched with diverse well-adapted native plants that will attract and nurture an array of wildlife, including butterflies, bees, birds, frogs, turtles, and small mammals. Surrounded by rapid urbanization, the Church of the Advocate’s acreage can serve as a sanctuary for homeless wildlife increasingly displaced by bulldozers, asphalt, and concrete. Over time, such native plantings require less maintenance than traditional ornamental plantings, most of which do not meet the needs of native wildlife.

The project has an educative component, engaging school children and graduate students and inviting all who are responsible for patches of Piedmont land to learn how to create vibrant native sanctuaries that serve rather than harm God’s creation. Ideally, we can lead other congregations and other neighborhoods to adopt this concept of native sanctuaries, building refuges of hope for native wildlife and havens of peace and beauty for humans one patch of piedmont (and beyond!) at a time. The Project will also include education on invasive exotic species and their removal — why it is important, how it contributes to sustainability.

The Piedmont Patch Project is grounded in a belief that the environment and our natural resources will be better sustained, and even thrive, as organizations and individuals work to cultivate one patch at a time. The Project is envisioned as a collaborative effort of the church, the town, the NC Botanical Gardens, and individuals with knowledge and skills to share.

Cathy Bollinger has a life-long passion for the natural world, especially in her home state of North Carolina. With a Masters in Environmental Management,  she has been a student of the ecology of especially her home Piedmont region all her life. These days, she volunteers at the NC Botanical Garden in several roles, continues to write her blog, The Piedmont Gardener, which she began in 2011, and recently began writing a bi-monthly gardening column for a small weekly paper in Virginia. 

Strength to Strength III: A $300,000 Campaign to Pay the Debt and Repurpose the House

In Epiphany 2008, the Church of the Advocate launched the
Strength to Strength Capital Campaign of $2.25 million. 

Strength to Strength I: To Buy The Land
Epiphany 2008 – Epiphany 2011

Strength to Strength II: To Worship On The Land
Epiphany 2012 – Easter 2014

In 2014, The Advocate received our certificate of occupancy for our Chapel, just in time for Easter. It was an exciting time, and the culmination of more than six years of fund-raising, planning, preparation, and hard work. To get to that point, we received generous and abundant support, not only from the people of the Advocate, but also from numerous friends, especially elders of “The Greatest Generation” who wanted the Advocate to thrive.

Even so, to be able to complete the adaptive re-use of the site and Chapel, we had to take out two loans, and leave the work of re-purposing the Advocate House and making it accessible to all for another time.

Two years later, that time has come, and the Vestry has launched:

Strength to Strength III:  To Pay the Debt and Repurpose the House
Epiphany 2016 – 

Strength to Strength III is a $300,000 Campaign to pay off our $180,000 debt and complete all needed and desired site and building work in and around the house.

The Vestry has determined the following priorities for funds as they come in.

– The first $40,000 will be raised by November 1, 2016 and will be matched by an anonymous $40,000 donor. This $80.000, will be our first payment on our $180,000 debt. This $40K challenge is being met thanks to more than 75% participation by the People of the Advocate and to a few kind friends.

– While gifts may be designated to debt retirement at any time, the next $60,000 raised will be used to repurpose the House for our use, especially to get it ADA compliant, and complete the site work required by the Town along with it. Namely to bring sewer to the house, curb and gutter a 10-car parking lot behind the house, and add a second ADA parking space. This is an essential response to our call to hospitality and accessibility to all.

– The next $100,000 raised will be used to retire the remainder of the $180,000 debt, due by June 1, 2018. * In December 2016, we were given a challenge to raise $30,000 from people beyond the Advocate congregation. That $30,000 will matched by an anonymous donor, bringing our remaining debt to $40,000.

– Another $60,000 raised will go toward making the house as functional as possible for our purposes: A wrap around deck to allow for accessible outdoor meeting and worship, a fully ADA accessible kitchen, a renewed library and meeting space. See complete plans here.

Gift forms are available online and in the Chapel bell tower.
Checks written to ECOTA with land/building in the memo line can be sent to:
The Advocate
8410 Merin Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Or to donate online click HERE.

*(Note that the Advocate also is paying off a $150,00 debt to the Diocese. This debt is being paid through the annual operating budget at a rate of $15,000, plus interest, each year for 10 years. Seven years remain on that debt payment).

 

 

The Advocate Pond — Hospitality and Fish

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IMG_0730The Advocate Pond — A Ministry of Place and People, Hospitality and Fish

In 2011 the Advocate acquired 15 acres of land in north Chapel Hill, in the middle of a hub of development in the next ten years – from extensive expansion of the University of North Carolina to the development of transitional housing ministries for the homeless, from residential and commercial build-out, to the possible placement of the growing town’s next middle school. Our 15 acres is also adjacent to what is known as The Historic Rogers Road Community, that settlement north of Chapel Hill, just outside the town limits, that has been home to generations of African Americans since the mid-19th century. The Rogers Road history includes a history of governmental racism, with roads and utilities slow to come or even denied, while the region’s landfill was placed there

On the fifteen-acre site, the people of the Advocate feel called to provide a space for hospitality, worship and contemplation, as well as a regional resource for collaborative social ministry and the arts.

In the middle of the 15 acres, there is a pond.

The pond existed long before it “belonged” to the Church of the Advocate. When the Advocate settlers first arrived, we quickly realized that the pond had a life and ministry all its own. From spring to fall, and especially in the summer, people from around Rogers Road came to fish for their for their pleasure, and for their supper. They had for generations. We learned that the man who had owned the land for decades before us used to stock the pond with bass, brim, and crappie. It was a peaceful and welcoming place.

In our first year on site, we realized that we had a lot to learn from the pond and its people — about regional history, about fishing, about life. And we realized that we had something to offer as well. Hospitality, for one thing. And also the church’s story, and the hope that is within us.

In 2013 though, as the Advocate site was prepared for parking and a chapel, the pond and its life were significantly disrupted. In order to meet requirements of the 1972 American Clean Water Act and various codes of the Town of Chapel Hill, the pond had to be drained and both a filter and an overflow drainage system installed. Turtles snuggled into the mud and most of the remaining fish found their way into the gullets of stalking herons.FullSizeRender 2

As we settled in to our second year of worshipping in the Advocate Chapel, we engaged in conversations with the people and the non-profit agencies around us, learning how we could be good neighbors in the neighborhood. One of the things we have learned is how much the people of Rogers Road miss the pond, miss the fishing. We heard that the elders of that community want to teach their grandchildren how to fish, they want their grandchildren to know that peaceful part of their ancestral way of life.

We also realized that the ministry of the pond can be expanded to include the residents of InterFaith Council’s Community House, a transitional housing program for men, that stands within a half mile of our site. For the people of the Advocate, this is a clear call to hospitality. And, like so much of the Advocate, it also has a strong appeal to our elders who are nostalgic for the past and to our young adults, who want to cultivate a simpler and more nature-centered life in the age of technology and internet. The Advocate Pond is a simple, peaceful, healing place.

IMG_1297The Advocate would like to develop the ministry of The Advocate Pond. We have learned what we can about how to clear the algae and re-stock the fish. We would like to be able to host fish dinners once a year to welcome the neighbors, maybe buy some rods and nets that those without them could use, and put up a little shed to store them in. Eventually we might even build a simple dock, so that people with unstable footing might access the pond and while others would be less likely to turn an ankle or fall in the water.

Our goal will always be to provide a natural setting and a place of peaceful hospitality. If you are led to support the Ministry of the Advocate Pond, please contact the Vicar.

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Kit Latimer Pillars

Kit Latimer photoKit Latimer was officially a member of the Church of the Advocate for a year before her death in January 2016. But illness prevented her from ever being able to worship with us in the Chapel. Her spirit was ever present, though, in notes played on her piano, which her husband, John Latimer, donated to the Advocate in time for our first liturgy in the Chapel, Easter, 2014.

John Latimer has now designated the gifts given in memory of Kit to pay for the purchase and installation of the stabilizing pillars on the south wall of the Chapel. This is an appropriate designation, as John and Kit, each in their own way, have been stabilzers of the Church wherever they have lived for more than half a century!

Here are photos and video of the installation of the 8 inch x 8 inch x 25 ft re-purposed heart pine pillars:

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Plans to Re-Purpose the Advocate House

deer at the houseRepurposing the Advocate House
The Advocate seeks to raise $120,000 to fund the repurposing and accessibility of the Advocate House as well as the improvements of site south of the pond. Currently, the house is a private residence and is not up to code as a public gathering space and office. Funds will allow doorways and the large bathroom to be brought to ADA compliance. If there are funds available, a large accessible deck will extend the house and help connect the house to the Chapel and provide an outdoor gathering space overlooking the pond. (Note that if there aren’t enough funds to build the accessible deck, an access ramp will be built in front of the house as indicated in the drawing below).

In addition, the current office space will be converted to a kids space, and one of the back rooms will become the office. The living room will be furnished for small group meetings and will become a resource center for prayer and social justice. If funds are available, the fireplace with be fitted with a gas log insert.

To complete our obligations to the Town of Chapel Hill for development of the site south of the pond, funds raised will also be used to add an accessible parking space in front of the Chapel, to finish a parking area with ten parking spaces behind the house, to bring sewer to the house, and to fill in the existing septic system and old well.

If possible, a small storage shed will be built for our yard equipment and other storage needs, and the storage area off the carport will be converted for storing tables and chairs.

All of these things will allow the People of the Advocate to care for our children, to learn, pray, break bread and welcome the stranger more faithfully and graciously.

Online donations can be made here.

Checks written to The Episcopal Church of the Advocate with a Memo to Building Campaign may be sent to:
8410 Merin Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516

Click to view the Advocate House plan with deck.

Unity in the Rogers Road Community Event April 18

From Chapelboro.com:

Unity in the Community Celebration will bring a day of fun to Chapel Hill

Join us for a day of live entertainment, good food, free health screenings, fellowship and family fun! Bring friends and family, lawn chairs and blankets for seating. Everyone of all ages is welcome to attend and there is no charge for the event!

The event will be Saturday, April 18th, 11 AM-3 PM, regardless of the weather.

The celebration will take place at the Rogers Road Community Center, 101 Edgar Street, Chapel Hill and Phoenix Place Park which is next to the Center. There will be a children’s bouncy house at the Park, and Ben & Jerrys will be giving away ice cream cones along with a light lunch being provided.

The organizers of the event include St. Paul AME Church, Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute, EmPOWERment Inc., The Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love, Grape Arbor Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, Human Rights Center, The Jackson Center, Justice Center,  the Phoenix Place Homeowners Association, Piedmont Health Services,  Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA), United Church of Chapel Hill, The Veggie Van, the Town of Carrboro and the Town of Chapel Hill.

If you have questions, please contact David Caldwell of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA) at (919) 918-2822.

The Advocate is signed up to help with logistics and to provide a seed swap. For more information, contact the Vicar or Kerry Bullock-Ozkan <kerdragon@yahoo.com>

Application for 2015-2016 Advocate House Resident

IMG_1235The Advocate campus on Merin Road includes a house. Each year, we invite a resident to live in the house, serving both a functional and a missional purpose. The functional purpose is to have a consistent presence on site to help secure the house and chapel and land.   The missional purpose is to support the Advocate’s ministry of hospitality to parishioners, neighbors, and visitors.

Applicants should be single adults, or an adult living singly for the year, in a time of vocational discernment (such as seminary or graduate school) who would benefit vocationally as well as financially from living in a church setting. Residents will be chosen based on their ability to fulfill the purposes stated above. The residency will be for a period of one year (from July/August to July/August). Pets are not permitted. People of the Advocate or others under the primary pastoral care or supervision of the Vicar may not apply.

Availability of the Advocate House Resident position will be announced on the church website (theadvocatechurch.org) on March 1 of the year in which the residency will begin.

The Advocate House Residency Application should be submitted by April 15 of the year in which the residency will begin. The Vicar, with the advice of the Vestry, will select finalists from the field of applicants for a personal interview. The Vicar, with the advice of the Vestry, will select the applicant who is the best match for the purposes stated above and will offer him/her the resident position., contingent upon criminal background check. Applicants will be notified by May 1st or by 2 weeks after Easter, whichever is later.

Questions and applications should be addressed to: The Advocate Church Office

theadvocatechurch@gmail.com

or

8410 Merin Road

Chapel Hill, NC  27516

 

Help Survey Our Neighborhood for Habitat and Justice United

By the official maps, the Advocate site is part of the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood. (see some of the history of the neighborhood here).
One of the Advocate’s Three Goals for 2015 is to engage more fully with the neighborhoods around us, including the Rogers Road Community. In the weeks ahead, there are two opportunities for us to engage with our neighbors on and around Rogers Road by interviewing them on behalf of Orange Justice United and of Habitat for Humanity.

 

Orange Justice United Surveys to help Get Public Transportation to the Neighborhood

Orange Justice United has created a proposal for an altered HS bus route based off of community identified needs. We will be canvassing the Rogers Rd neighborhood to ratify the proposal and sign up residents for a petition in support.

In the Rogers Road community parents need better bus service to get to work and for their children to return home from after school activities. Several low income families spoke of the burden of having to own a car because of the lack of bus service. The proposed new route aims to meet these needs and give the Rogers Road community the same level of service enjoyed in other parts of town.
Will you join us as we engage in this important work? After we have received support from the residents for the proposed changes, we will vet them through Chapel Hill Transit before presenting them to the Transit Partners on April 28.
Please contact michelle.r.osborne@gmail.com to RSVP for the canvassing on Saturday.

Habitat Homeowners Surveys

This spring Habitat for Humanity of Orange County will be administering two surveys: the 6-12 Month Follow Up Survey with Phoenix Place homeowners who closed on their homes in the past 6-12 months and the Habitat Homeowner Survey with homeowners in New Homestead.  Phoenix Place and New Homestead are both communities off of Rogers Road. We would love for members of The Advocate to volunteer to survey residents!  Working as a Survey Administration Volunteer gives individuals the opportunity to connect with the Phoenix Place and New Homestead communities and get to know their residents. Surveying community members is about more than just the data we collect – it’s a chance to get to know our fellow community members better!  This is especially true as members of The Advocate build relationships with the residents of Rogers Road.

Survey Administration volunteers will be trained in surveying best-practices before they work with homeowners. Volunteers work in pairs.  One volunteer asks questions while the other volunteer writes down the homeowner’s answers.  This makes it easier to record answers and information.”

Training times for March 21st volunteering are:

2:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 11

3:00-5:00 PM on Monday, March 16th

5:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 17th

Training times for March 28th volunteering are:

3:00-5:00 PM on Monday, March 23rd

5:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 24th

2:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 25th