Funny, heartbreaking, and challenging in equal measure, these stories and essays will surely inspire new improvisations towards community.
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A Riff of Love

Notes on Community and Belonging

Hi <<First Name>>,

Surprising teachers. Tragic losses. Unexpected gifts. Every neighborhood has stories, and ways of singing the stories of their place. Start digging in, and you find all sorts of music. In a neighborhood skilled in improvisation, like Enderly Park, you also discover new ways to sing those songs, and a choir of new kinfolk to sing them with.

Since 2005, author and saxophonist Greg Jarrell has been learning the songs of Enderly Park, his Charlotte neighborhood. A Riff of Love explores the riffs and melodies that comprise the life of the neighborhood and of QC Family Tree, the hospitality house where he lives. Though neighbors there face significant economic and political barriers, they still thrive. Funny, heartbreaking, and challenging in equal measure, these stories and essays about life in Enderly Park will surely inspire new improvisations towards community and neighbor-love for everyone who reads them.

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Praise for A Riff of Love

“This book reads like a series of profound prayer walks, with Greg taking us into homes and parks and street corners we might not otherwise have access to. Through vivid, evocative language, and a propensity for connecting history to the present day, Greg made me fall in love with his neighborhood. There is no need quite so pressing as the challenge to learn to love our neighbors as ourselves in an unequal and unjust country such as the US, and Greg approaches this task with wisdom, humility, and humor.”
—D.L. Mayfield, author of Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

“Greg Jarrell provides readers unique insight on issues related to racism, housing segregation, gentrification, and community building from his firsthand experiences as a community organizer on the ground in Charlotte, North Carolina ... He moves it from the theoretical to the concrete by focusing on the humanity of those impacted by racial inequality, and includes an examination of his own personal learning process.”
—Bree Newsome, American filmmaker, musician, speaker, and activist from Charlotte, North Carolina

“Greg's book reads like jazz: the rhythm and flow pull you into a whole different part of your heart and mind. And that's a good thing, because it helps us be present to things we might rather avoid but need to confront for the sake of our babies, the sake of our communities, and the sake of our humanity. What a gift to take this journey.”
—Sandhya Jha, author of Transforming Communities: How People Like You are Healing Their Neighborhoods

“Participate in an inspiring spiritual drama in search of the ‘blue note,’ with scales and scores which soar beyond boundaries of injustice and the underground economy. Join in this session of transformation, hopefulness, and a conversation about a strange land in a familiar neighborhood. Enderly Park is continuously fresh and engaging, turn around once more, ‘one more once’ and gaze through broken windows seeing we are all one.”
—Clifford A. Jones, Senior Minister, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

“Greg ... weaves together experiences from life in a radical Christian community with unexpected insights from his work as a saxophonist to tell a love story about the people of Enderly Park. This is one of the most human books I've read in a long while, and I heartily recommend it.”
—Mark Van Steenwyk, founder, Center for Prophetic Imagination

“Greg Jarrell walks the walk through his high-poverty Charlotte neighborhood, learning the names behind the statistics, finding jazz and Jesus in their stories. If you want to hold onto prejudices about what poor people are like, this book is not for you. It’s for the open-minded, and open-hearted, and for all of us who want to understand our fellow human beings a little better.”
—Tommy Tomlinson, author of the forthcoming Elephant in the Room

“Once every few years, a book appears that makes Christians and Churches notice that, Yes, we’ve been doing some nice and good things—but why haven’t we been doing this? With simplicity, compassion, and courage, Greg shows us how to be the people of God in obvious ways we’ve missed. We might say this book is ‘well-written,’ but great writing is nothing more than great living and taking the time to tell about it. I think Jesus would say, Yeah, this is what I was talking about.”
—James Howell, Senior Minister, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina

About the Author

Greg Jarrell is co-founder and Chief Door Answerer at QC Family Tree, a community of rooted discipleship in the west Charlotte neighborhood of Enderly Park. Greg shares life there with a host of neighbors who have become family, as well as his wife Helms and sons John Tyson and Zeb.

Greg’s work with neighbors in Enderly Park focuses on building from their gifts, creating economic opportunity, and combating serial displacement and land loss in a rapidly changing neighborhood. Greg can also be found around Charlotte playing saxophone. He regularly performs in concert and club venues across North and South Carolina in jazz, classical, and commercial settings. His recent release “How Bright the Path,” in collaboration with Richmond-based pianist Jim Bennett, features spirituals, blues, and popular standards.

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