Midland County Commissioner Randy Prude first learned of The Field’s Edge and its mission to serve the homeless about two years ago.
The vision actually began years earlier when a young couple was invited to Church Under the Bridge, a local street church in Midland. John-Mark Echols and his then-girlfriend Briana had absolutely no understanding of homelessness and were very nervous about what they might encounter. In May of 2016, after several years of serving the homeless on a volunteer basis, getting married, building a house, and having a child, John-Mark attended a three-day symposium at Community First! Village in Austin. It was at the symposium that his eyes were opened to a new and radical approach to homelessness – lifting the chronically homeless off the streets and into a permanent, supportive, tiny house community.
The Field’s Edge was formed with the mission of bringing close to 100 formerly homeless residents of the Permian Basin into The Field’s Edge family.
As stated in the organization’s vision statement: “Every detail of the design is centered on building relationships. People who have never experienced homelessness will be called to live in the village as missional residents. They will live alongside men and women who have spent most of their lives on the street. The gifts and talents of our residents will be developed into microenterprises, enabling them to earn a dignified income. Partnerships are being forged with mental and physical health care providers to give residents the care they need. The Field’s Edge will be a permanent place to call home, a place for neighbors to walk alongside each other for life.”
The name of the organization is derived from Leviticus 23:22: “When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”
Prude, now in his 22nd year as County Commissioner, learned of the project from film director Matt Maxwell. “Finding Home in Boomtown” directed by Maxwell follows the Echols’ three-year journey culminating in their decision to create a village in Midland. The film premiered on PBS in January of this year.
After being introduced to John-Mark Echols, Prude became personally involved in supporting The Field’s Edge, serving on the board, assisting with fundraising, and facilitating various activities.
The Midland County Commissioners Court also became a part of the project, donating $100,000 last year and pledging another $300,000 this year for help with roads and infrastructure.
“We are currently in our phase one capital campaign to raise around $4 million and build the infrastructure and first 10 homes,” Prude shared. “We are 80 percent-plus there and will break ground before long.”
A site plan shows 10 pods of eight to 10 tiny homes, according to city documents. Each pod includes a bath-kitchen-laundry facility and a missional home. The proposed density is 4.2 units per acre. A site plan also shows a hospitality building, two chapels, a market, a health building, a pavilion, a playground, a workshop, a physical activity center a garden, a maintenance area, and a storage facility.
“Many who have heard about our mission have contributed and offered much-needed ancillary services as donations,” Prude shared. “We welcome all County Judges and Commissioners to make an inquiry if they are interested in doing similar things in their counties.”
For more information, go to www.thefieldsedge.org.