Tag: new hope baptist church
Supporters who showed up to back a proposed dog park in Ann Arbor learned it had been taken off this week’s city council meeting’s agenda — apparently out of of concerns that its location across the street from a historically African-American church would be viewed as culturally insensitive.
Ann Arbor officials pulled the plug on the proposal after New Hope Baptist Church leaders raised concerns about noise and safety and what they called “cultural differences,” according to AnnArbor.com. It reported:
“Leaders of the historically black congregation communicated to city officials that a number of the church’s members were born in the South and have different attitudes about dogs, and they simply see a dog park as incompatible with their ability to worship freely.”
I don’t think southerners and northerners, or for that matter blacks and whites, have widely varying attitudes about dogs. People do. Some look at dogs and see joy; some look at them and see danger, or at least a nuisance. That is, most often, a product of their environment and experiences — rather than their region of origin or skin color.
A well-maintained dog park in the neighborhood doesn’t lower home values, it raises them. It’s neither direspecful or insulting.
Tabling the plan seems to send the opposite messages, and to lend credence to the faulty preconception that one can’t be both black and a dog lover.
Sometimes — maybe even especially in progressive communities like Ann Arbor – sensitively tiptoeing around a subject can land you in a big pile of stereotype. No matter which side you’re on.
In expressing the church’s opposition to the dog park’s location in West Park earlier this month, The Rev. Rodrick Green said:
“There’s no reason why it has to be placed in an area that’s going to be offensive to us as a people and as a church, and right now it’s offensive,” he said earlier this month.
That, with all due respect, seems a leap — whether he’s talking about African-Americans, Baptists, or members of his congregation.
But apparently it was enough for the council, not wanting to appear politically incorrect, to take the matter off its agenda.
Despite doing so, council members still got an earful from supporters of a new and centrally located off-leash playground for dogs in Ann Arbor.
One of the speakers at the city council meeting, John Lawter, a former parks commissioner who has led the effort for more dog parks in Ann Arbor, went so far as to suggest that church members work to overcome any fear they have of dogs.
“Let’s break this culture of fear,” Lawter added, calling fear “an ugly thing” that should be put down whenever possible.
Lawter said he believes members of New Hope Baptist Church are sincere in their concerns, but he still feels they are founded in a “gross misunderstanding of canine behavior.”
Several residents noted that the Arise Church, a United Methodist congregation in Pinckney, established a two-acre dog park on its property and that it led to increased church membership.
“We believe that God created people to be in community, and that we are at our best when we’re in relationship to one another,” the church’s website reads. “Therefore, we provide this dog park not only as a fun safe place where dogs can get good exercise, but our greatest hope is that dog owners will make friends here and enjoy great conversations together.”
” … These folks in Pinckney have grown their congregation by having people first come visit the dog park and then decide, ‘Geez, these are good Christian values of inclusion, tolerance, charity and love,’ and then they join the congregation,” said Ann Arbor resident Harold Kirchen.
City officials say a dog park close to downtown remains a priority, and that other locations will be reviewed.
Ann Arbor has two-off leash dog parks — one at Swift Run in the southeast part of the city and one at Olson Park in the northeast part of the city.
Lawter said he believes the city should have stuck with an initial proposal to construct a dog park at West Park as a temporary facility that can be removed after a year if there are problems.
“Ann Arbor is a culturally diverse city,” Lawter said. “Our dog owners are a culturally diverse group, and our parks should be open to all cultures, including the four-legged variety.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: african american, animals, ann arbor, baptist, city council, compalints, concerns, congregation, cultural, differences, dog park, dogs, insensitive, location, michigan, new hope baptist church, pets, West Park
A dog park next to a church? Heaven forbid!
The leaders of New Hope Baptist Church say a dog park that has been proposed across the street would disrupt their services and pose a safety hazard to parishioners.
“It upsets the dignity of our worship services,” the Rev. Rodrick Green told the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission last month. “It’s going to be a noise problem because we’re conducting our services at the time when people are going to be bringing their dogs, and dogs make noise. You can’t control dog noise.”
Green and church trustee Thomas Miree have both spoken out against the city’s proposal to establish a small off-leash dog park at the Chapin Street entrance to West Park, directly across the street from the church.
The city council will take the matter up at its next meeting, on Jan. 22, according to AnnArbor.com.
The park commission is recommending approval of the dog park — it would become the third in the city — under the condition that it be reviewed one year after it opens.
City park officials said the proposed dog park is a response to public demand that one be located close to downtown. Ann Arbor’s existing dog parks are located at Swift Run in the southeast part of the city, and at Olson Park in the northeast part of the city.
But church leaders at New Hope Baptist are still hoping the city will rethink the location.
“We have a situation where children, who are sometimes afraid of dogs, are put at risk, and maybe now they have a disincentive to use the park because of the dogs,” Rev. Green said. “There are so many reasons for them not to do it, and only a couple of reasons in favor of it.”
City Council Member Christopher Taylor says the dog park would be fenced, with a double-gated entry system.
“As for the noise and so forth … dog parks … are not particularly disruptive — certainly less disruptive than unsupervised dog play,” Taylor said.
Green says the church would have no complaints if the dog park would be located farther back on the piece of property.
“West Park is a large park,” he said. “There’s no reason why it has to be placed in an area that’s going to be offensive to us as a people and as a church, and right now it’s offensive.”
(Photos: New Hope Baptist Church and the proposed location of a dog park, across the street; by Ryan J. Stanton / AnnArbor.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ann arbor, church, city council, dog, dog park, dogs, michigan, new hope baptist church, objections, parks, parks advisory commission, pastor, pets, proposal, proposed, reverend, West Park