When I told the kids I needed to send out an email asking for end-of-the-year donations today, and asked if they knew anyone who wanted to make a big donation to The Land, they asked me what I would do if someone gave The Land a billion dollars. I answered quickly and kept talking long after they had stopped listening. When I finally stopped talking, they looked at me and said, “you’ve thought a lot about this!”
I guess I have thought about what I would do with unlimited resources a lot. Each time I go out to The Land by myself new ideas or visions or hopes pop up in my mind. Some ideas are within reach and others are dreams for a time long after I am gone.
I would buy a house next to The Land so we could host interns for the summer and use it as a gathering place when winter weather made The Land inaccessible or unsafe. I would use the house as my office. I would buy a second house, the biggest house I could find within ten miles, so we could house our summer mission groups.
I would hire a full-time naturalist, gardener, property manager, and program coordinator. This way we could launch a full version of Prairie School and offer year-round educational opportunities for people of all ages. I would buy a teepee for the children which would be custom designed for The Land! I would add installations for the children like a mud kitchen and a building station and a mini-birdwatch tower.
I would lay gravel for our parking lot and our driveway. I would invest in prairie restoration efforts and create a prairie dog sanctuary which would include doing whatever I needed to buy that property to the south of us so the natural ecosystem could have a shot at thriving amid rapid development.
I would purchase beautiful cedar wood signage with information about the spiritual importance of the natural world. I would contract with an artist to paint a mural on the roadside of the red shed. I would buy a food truck with refrigeration so we could drive the produce to those who need it without them trying to figure out transportation to pick it up.
I wouldn’t lose sleep wondering how we will afford to tap into city water, sewer or, electricity and I would begin plans for a modest restroom building that would be included in our city plans.
I would expand the cobblestone labyrinth integrating native plants between the pathways so we could harvest prickly pear and sage and mullein reminding us of the importance of native prairie plants. We could have an annual marketplace featuring value-added products from the harvest of these native plants and offer classes on how to grow, harvest, and make various value-added products at home.
I would contract engineers to design a very modest kitchen building so we could wash, and package produce onsite. I would build slightly raised wooden walkways around the property, so we weren’t treading on the homes of plants and insects, and snakes.
I would offer specialty camps for kids and youth who were struggling with mental health issues and for LGBTQIA youth. All the camps would be about celebrating the perfectly amazing humans God created them each to be while introducing them to an ecosystem that loved and supported them even on the days when they couldn’t love and support themselves.
Some of the things I would do seem inconsequential in the context of a billion dollars, but they would make all the difference to me.
I would buy a nice printer so I could print our newsletters and bulletins and mailers in-house. I would invest in marketing…meaning I would hire someone to do marketing! I would buy an AED to keep at The Land. I would buy a new phone so I could stream gatherings for people who aren’t able to be there in person because of distance or illness and I would hire someone to manage all this tech stuff that is so important to our mission but consumes a great deal of my time.
I would start a grant program to fund full-time positions for pastors of new wild churches and host wild church gatherings once a year to teach nonprofit development and offer a platform to share lessons learned in different ministry contexts.
Of course, there are more things that I would love to do.
There is always more.
It’s rarely possible to define, let alone reach, the elusive place we would recognize as enough. This would be the challenge. To begin from a place of enough.
I know I would want to expand but I also know I would maintain the natural spaces that make the land, The Land. I would avoid big buildings, concrete pads, and paved over parking lots. I would spend money to live gently on the land, to work with the land when the temptation would be to work over the land until everything that was there when we came was gone.
I would use resources to invest in Her because I am alive because of Her investment in me. The Land is the reason I breathe. The reason we all breathe.
There is a small chance we will not receive a check for a billion dollars before the next year. But we are well on our way to bringing these dreams to life in smaller ways. The 79 donors who make up the 575 contributions we have received this year have contributed a total of $79,638 towards our $135,000 operating budget. We would love to be able to end this year strong as we head into the New Year. If you are able to make an end-of-the-year gift to bring us closer to meeting our operational budget with individual donations, it would be incredibly appreciated.
Every gift given is a step closer to dreams manifesting.
As many of you already know, in 2022 we are taking a big leap and raising our operational budget to $190,000. We will hire a naturalist and a gardener, an Iliff intern, and an administrative assistant. We will continue to contract with a musician and a sound tech person for Saturday gatherings. We will install a fourth canopy, signage, and fencing by the memorial garden. We will invest in prairie restoration and work our way toward installing a solar power system.
And we will keep dreaming with whatever amount of money we have in our bank account. Dreaming of new ways to connect with creation and to care for our community because the world needs all the connection and care we can give right now. It may not be a billion dollars donated, but the gift you give is essential right now and we thank you so much for the love and support that continues to plant seeds, inspire visions, and enable dreams to come true.