11 Questions with Rebecca Lujan Loveless from POLIS Institute in Orlando, FL

You can't deny that people are awesome. Who doesn't like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? With that in mind I'm introducing an ongoing photo and Q&A series called 11 Questions. I'll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within my community who I've always wanted to get to know. Let's get started!

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I owe a lot to Rebecca Lujan Loveless. She has been a springboard for ideas and is one of the people who helped me start my Parramore/Holden project. Her insight, as well as insight from the POLIS Institute where she is Executive Director, has helped me understand the complexity of poverty and how to serve those living in it with dignity. Getting her feedback on an issue is always refreshing because she never pulls punches yet is kind in her answers. The work she is doing is changing lives. I'm glad to know her. I think you'll enjoy what she has to say.

1. Who do you look up to?

I look up to Dr. Bob Lupton, Dr. Dan Allender. They have both spent decades honing their unique skills and have improved the lives of so many people! In the face of controversy and skepticism they have tirelessly worked to bring a message of hope, healing and redemption to our world. Dr. Lupton has spent his life on behalf of the poor, calling the Church to be more inclusive of the people they try to serve. He fearlessly speaks out against unjust systems and humbly exhorts people like me to examine our hearts and minds as we seek to serve. Dr. Allender has been a profound voice that has helped re-think the Church’s quest to bring healing and wholeness to broken lives. He has shamelessly taken on the cause of the sexually abused and traumatized and has brought an awareness to emotional and spiritual wholeness like no one I’ve ever read or heard.

2. Do you have a favorite book?

I love reading so it’s hard to pick just one...but my favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It has profoundly impacted my life by vividly depicting the horrifying affects that ignorant western Christians can unwittingly have on a culture we do not understand. I started out my adult life with the belief system that because I was a Christian [American] that I some how had solutions for people in other countries and cultures. I read this book as a young missionary and it caused me to rethink and repent for all the ways I made unconscious assumptions and judgements and then acted on them. A beautiful story of tragedy, loss, rebirth and hope.

3. Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Ravenous Pig. Try the Pub Burger with Truffle Fries or The Gatherer Salad.

4. What gives you inspiration?

I’m inspired by stories of people who have overcome hardship or suffering. We all experience our own version of suffering. What is more moving than some one acknowledging the pain, grieving losses and then moving forward to be an agent of healing for others?

5. If you had the chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

I’d love to live during the decade of 1910-20. The Women’s Suffrage movement is fascinating to me. So many women [and a few notable men] waged war on discrimination and gave up so much for the civil and human rights that I enjoy today.

6. What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

Wow. This could be a novel. I grew up in a melting pot of diversity. I am Hispanic/White growing up in a predominately Asian/Polynesian culture in Maui, Hawaii. This diversity contributed to my love of other cultures [ethnic, social etc.]. It also provided an experience where I was discriminated against for the color of my skin. Having a personal and at times painful experience with race and gender discrimination has given me a deep passion for defending others who may be experiencing this crime.

7. How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Very carefully. I am extremely grateful that I have a career that I love and a family that supports me to be the best “me” in both places. My family knows that I am a better wife/mom and a better community developer when I am doing both. Date nights are normal in our home. Family days of bike riding or adventure seeking are intentional. Working hard and playing/resting hard are high values in our home.

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8. Is there anything that you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I want to travel to every continent. I have not been to Australia or Antarctica.

9. If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

This might be a frightful sight but an elephant and a mongoose. Elephants have incredible memories and are extremely loyal. They are highly relational and deeply love their family. I grew up watching mongoose dart across the roads in Maui. They are crafty, fast and fearless. Mongoose can take down a cobra. I think a Mongophant would make a pretty good friend.

10. What are your other interests?

I love to travel, write, cook and garden. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and my wanderlust can never be satisfied. I write a blog, although very infrequently. I cook almost every day as an artistic expression. I garden and try not to kill my plants.

11. What rejuvenates you?

I am about the most extreme extrovert you will meet. I love being with my close friends, eating great food, drinking great drinks, laughing, and talking. I love sharing my life with people.