Church of Love
The purpose of the Church of Love (COL) is to promote and celebrate community and enhance community engagement. The COL is owned and operated by Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA), a regional housing authority whose mission is “to create housing opportunities that empower our people and build our community. “
Cook Inlet Housing Authority, through an ArtPlace Community Development Investments Grant, is exploring the intersection between the arts and culture sector and community development.
This exploration, in conjunction with CIHA’s investment and planning in the Spenard neighborhood in Anchorage, has taken on several manifestations to date including the activation of an old church building, formerly known as “Love Church”, now bearing the moniker “Church of Love”, as a central hub for neighborhood and community engagement.
Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) is one of six organizations participating in the Community Development Investments (CDI) program. For more information about the program itself, click here.
Over the course of three years, CIHA will receive $3 million to incorporate arts and cultural strategies into its core work by exploring new techniques for developing neighborhood revitalization work that brings arts and culture to the table at the planning stages. The ArtPlace America grant along with their ongoing support and partnership will allow CIHA to explore new and innovative ways of building community.
CIHA believes that the best and most successful community development comes through a combination of listening and collaboration with our neighbors and a variety of community stakeholders, the ability to respond to needs and priorities as defined by those groups, the navigation of resource availability and consideration of long term sustainability. CIHA’s corporate values of Compassion, Innovation, Honesty and Accountability guide our decision making process.
CIHA is exploring how collaboration with artists and the use of creative tactics can help to achieve “non-arts” community development outcomes in support of the work we do creating housing opportunities that empower our people and build our community. Some examples of “non-arts” outcomes are included below in our Priorities section.
CIHA believes that among our neighbors and stakeholders are a variety of respected artists, emergent creatives and culture bearers interested in community development.
CIHA believes that the arts, artists and creatives can play a significant role in community engagement and community expression; including pushing innovation, creative placemaking, identifying and amplifying cultural assets, and celebrating local history and Alaska Native culture.
Any artist we work with must demonstrate their capacity for listening to community residents/stakeholders and Cook Inlet Housing Authority. They must be committed to outcomes which address the needs, values and priorities expressed by other stakeholders and a process that is mutually iterative, amidst whatever artistic process and output they devise and execute.
- Equitable engagement process for all residents and stakeholders, regardless of their tenure in the community.
- More housing. Of all types, at all ranges of affordability.
- More green. More connections.
- The transition from an auto-oriented neighborhood to a re-envisioned urban framework that supports all modes of transportation.
- Recognized public, private, and random places for community gathering, informal or formal.
- A strong local business community that sees value in being in Spenard and value in working together to brand the district, hold events, and champion placemaking.
- An exploration of the importance of artists and creatives and the use of creative tactics to promote community development in a variety of disciplines, from public spaces to new business opportunities.
- Clean up but don’t sterilize Spenard. Embrace the weird but know that change is necessary.
- Through all of this, a place where residents and business owners feel safe, that quality of life is improving, and where they feel connected to their neighborhood.
- Bringing story, CIHA values, and Alaska Native culture into our work both in process and products.
- Must have long-term sustainability, both financially and organizationally.