Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the content
The Story-Telling City Planner: Ebony Walden Infuses Poetry and Place

The Story-Telling City Planner: Ebony Walden Infuses Poetry and Place

The Charlottesville leader believes Christians should be 'the 'most' involved, interacting, and creative' neighbors of all.

Having grown up in Queens and Long Island, Ebony Walden wanted to improve blighted and fragmented communities like those of her childhood. And for years, she assumed the best way to do so would be through a church or faith-based organization.

But as she pursued the opportunities that she felt God was giving her, Walden stepped into a vocation that she hadn't imagined: that of a story-gathering city planner.

"In part, your vocation is just you being you. But it is also about helping to create a new heaven and earth and bringing Christ into those places," she says. "I wanted to be a part of making this new creation. Providing places and spaces for people to interact and tell their stories—that is an important part of the life of the city."

Walden graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in marketing and management in 2002, and then joined a fellows program at the Congressional Hunger Center, which sent her to work for six months at Children's Alliance, a child advocacy group in Seattle. That was followed by several months back in the Capital, applying what she'd learned as she focused on policy.

"I started reading books on poverty alleviation theories and urban issues," she recalls, mentioning the work of John Perkins in particular. "And I became more interested in community development. I knew I didn't want to be a policy wonk or be in direct service, though."

Thinking that community development might be best done through the church—"often the last standing social institution" in a devastated African American community, she notes—Walden planned to attend seminary. That discernment process led her to another fellowship, starting in fall 2003, at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trinity's fellows are placed with a host family, given a part-time work assignment, and paired with a mentor. In her job placement with Amy Sherman (who has written several times for the City project), Walden researched churches involved with community economic development: churches developing low- or mixed-income housing, bringing grocery stores into food deserts, and turning vacant buildings into job centers.


Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

When I learned that kids in my city couldn't swim, I started to rethink how much I'd invested in overseas missions.
Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

For Harrison Higgins, building beautiful furniture is not simply a steady job but a sacrament unto God.
Faith in a Fallen Empire

Faith in a Fallen Empire

Detroit's list of maladies is long. But some Christians' commitment to its renewal is longer.
'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–1 of 1 comments

Travis Wincker

August 09, 2012  2:12pm

Thank you Ebony! I resonate with your vocation to be a "placemaker" in the city. I have heard of poetry as a part of expressing testimony and creating communal space in worship settings, but not as a vehicle for shaping the process of city planning. Really cool! Bless you in your work and ministry.


Make a contribution to help support the This Is Our City project and the nonprofit ministry Christianity Today.Learn more ...


RT @MissionYear: A great collection of articles from @ct_city @CTmagazine http://t.co/OLmjHvUIfr

In honor of Kim Newlen, a friend of @ct_city who died Saturday, we share our story of her battle with cancer: http://t.co/S3FGKhVDuo

RT @CTmagazine: After three years, hundreds of stories, thousands of readers, our tribute to This Is Our City: http://t.co/Gz35NhAdqc @ct_c2026

The top 10 stories of @editor @KatelynBeaty picks her favorites and reflects on lessons learned in 3 years: http://t.co/BQxYdaoyD9

"As a community we have to do a better job of rescuing these young people." The newest (and last) City video: http://t.co/vZL0cRKO7H #RVA