Big ideas 

For Little Rock, North Little Rock and Central Arkansas

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I wish that I could have disagreed, but the reality is that all too often, these words are exactly what the church in America has become. Without really realizing it, these students were expressing their desire to see the church wake up and embrace the ideals presented in the pages of the New Testament.

But if that is going to happen, then barriers of all kinds that have unknowingly been erected over the centuries will need to come down, like the barrier of race.

Why is it that Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week? Why does every race worship with people who look just like them? Jesus didn't come to establish a bunch of different ethnic enclaves. He came to call people from every tribe, tongue and nation.

Another huge barrier the church needs to recognize and overcome is this idea that it is a place for the morally pure to come and hang out on Sundays, patting each other on the back for how well they have done in avoiding sin that week. No. What Jesus and his followers taught us is that the church was meant to be a place for everyone. The hurting, the broken, the addict, the skeptic are all welcome to come and find answers, freedom, healing and help.

But maybe the biggest barrier is the belief that “church” is what happens inside the walls of the building, rather than who we are when we drive away from the parking lot. What the Bible describes is pretty straightforward, namely that the church would be so motivated by the love of God that it would reach out and care for the “least” among us, that the poor, the orphan, the widow, the prisoner would all find a friend in the church and that the church wouldn't just be an institution for charity, but people who are charitable.

Taido Chino is the pastor to students at Fellowship North church in North Little Rock.

Intergenerational date night
By Joyce Elliott

Old, older, young and younger people need to have fun together, engage in healthy folly. We don't know how to relate to one another because we fail to have fun together — by design.

We need a healthy dose of togetherness across the lines of age. Unlike many, dare I say most, other countries, Americans define their fun by the lines, or lack thereof, in their faces, rather than the mirth in their hearts, though deeply buried it may be. So here is my unapologetic, immodest proposal: Every other month, let's hold a citywide date night at some large venue. Only mixed-generation couples will be allowed. Gender doesn't matter. There are lots of available dates in retirement homes and in schools/colleges, for example. There could be dancing, singing, skating, stand-up comedy, sports, poetic smack-downs, etc. Whatever the activity, it must be kinetic, joyous and/or interactive! Nothing passive, nothing cerebral.

Results: We could reconnect ties that we have unwisely, artificially severed and move miles toward rebuilding community. We could help young people understand what it means to grow old, that it doesn't have to be a stage of dread. We could help older folks retain and recapture their “groove.” It doesn't have to be just Stella who got it back! We could become less suspicious and more nurturing of one another. Most important of all we could renew our duty of humanity to accept responsibility for each other.

Okay, I admit it: I am advocating public displays of love and happiness.

Shall we dance?

Joyce Elliott is a state senator from Little Rock.

Create a vibrant start-up community
By Matt Price

How do we create high-tech jobs in Central Arkansas? The first answer is easy, education. Everything gets easier the more educated people become. But what do we do in the meantime? My big idea is to create a vibrant tech start-up community in Central Arkansas.

I believe tech start-ups, more specifically Internet start-ups, could represent the biggest shift in our economy as a whole since the Industrial Revolution. Changes in technology allow start-ups to compete against much larger competitors. Start-ups are more nimble, not capital-intensive and they scale very quickly, making them very disruptive in the marketplace.

Governor Beebe and our state government have taken several steps to promote start-ups, including providing resources like Innovate Arkansas and the Seed Capital Program through the Science and Technology Authority. Although these are great programs and have already helped many start-ups (Capsearch.com included!), they are not the whole solution.

One model that has promise is Y Combinator. Y Combinator is a new kind of venture firm that helps start-ups through what many consider to be the hardest step, the one from idea to company. This model provides very small investments ($25,000 to $50,000) and then introduces start-ups to larger investors.

This is a good start, but if an investor in Silicon Valley offers them a larger investment they would most likely relocate. So then what?

What if we paid start-ups to relocate to Little Rock? Let's assume it would cost a million dollars per business. If we could get start-ups to stay in Little Rock for a million apiece, then for $100 million we could bring in 100 new businesses. For the price of a football stadium, Little Rock could turn itself into one of the biggest start-up cities in the country. That would probably help us keep our best and brightest, and might even produce a lot of revenue for the city and the state.

Matt Price is the CEO and co-founder of Capsearch, an on-line-based legislative research company.



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