One of the reasons I most wanted to leave Chico eight years ago was because I had lost all patience with the university’s Greek life. Driving through the heart of the Greek blocks, watching yet another gaggle of drunk kids stagger across the street, I wanted to roll down my window and shout, “How does it feel to be a cliché?” But over the last few years, Kate and I have been on a Slow Church/Parish Collective journey. On this vacation to Chico, I now see nothing but opportunities: opportunities, for example, for all-ages concert venues and communities of hospitality for international students. But if we lived in Chico, knowing what we know now, we’d buy from some slumlord a big, rundown house in the heart of the Greek blocks. We’d fix up the house, plant a big community garden, “live” in the front yard, invite some single folks to stay in our house, introduce Molly to the neighbors, and keep a room or couch free for people who need to sleep off a wild night. We’d also organize a small army of volunteers (including lots of grandmothers!) to walk the streets on weekends to help make sure drunk students get home safe. If I lived in Chico but kept myself removed from the party culture, I’d go crazy again, and the college kids would remain clichés and caricatures. The only thing to do is plunge in it with both feet. Kate and I are in Silverton to stay, but there is lots of great work to be done in Chico.
Thoughts from Chico