Today we’d like to introduce you to the Uncommon [good] team: Ryan Ross, Dawn Neldon, Pamela Martin-Johnston, and Cody Vermillion.
Before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Uncommon [good] is the realization of an idea that three friends (Ryan, Dawn, & Cody) had while working together at a church in North County, San Diego. As church staff members, we often sat in meetings trying to answer one question over and over again: “how do we get people to want to come to church?” One day, we decided to ask a different question: “how do we create spaces people actually want to be?” And the answer led us outside the walls of church and into our community…
We started with some core ideas: Everyone is looking for connection, community, friendship, and fun. Most people would like to have real conversations about spirituality. And most people want to do good things with their time and resources. However, many don’t find these things in church as we know it. And most organizations aren’t equipped to facilitate the kind of deep connection people long for. So in 2017, we set out to bridge that gap.
Since we began, Uncommon [good] has been setting up events and gatherings in public spaces – often partnering with local businesses as the venue or vendors for the event. Some gatherings are free parties with no agenda other than connection. Some are more intentional dinners with a spiritually focused discussion. There’s always food, because we believe connection happens best at the table. There’s often music, cause who doesn’t like music? It’s always open to all and free of expectation or judgement. Our hope is that people connect with one another in real ways; At real places, they would actually go; Having conversations they actually care about.
Our hope is to eventually have a space in the Poway Unified School District area where we will host events and operate from. a place people want to be – a hub of community. We envision a place where people find connection, joy, life, and deep spirituality. Maybe they come for the community center, or the kid’s play area, or the coffee, or the music and speaking events. Whatever compels them to join us, we want them to feel at home there.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been easy existing as a nomadic “church-ish” organization in the gap between spirituality and culture. Many folks more attuned to traditional church simply don’t understand what we are doing. However, many people who have been hurt by church, or have never been interested in spirituality, love what we are doing.
Some of the biggest struggles are: Not having a home base to connect with our community; Funding to bring these (largely free) events to people who need connection; Finding ways to remain connected to our community during the pandemic; And offering tangible ways for people to serve and love our community.
Please tell us what Uncommon [good] is known for.
We specialize in connection. We host events in our community for our community. We do [good] in our community by serving those in need in a variety of tangible ways. We have fun! We have real spiritual conversations. And we set a place at the table for everyone!
We are most proud of offering a place to call community and family for those who have been hurt, or damaged, or just need some people that love them. We also love engaging people in conversations, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. Unlike many churches, we are not bound by a specific hour on Sunday, a certain building, or attendance numbers to keep going. Instead, we are fueled by creativity and a desire to engage and meet people where they are at all cost!
- Uncommon Party: Free, always
- Wine & Words: $25 for food and Beverage
- Community Gatherings/Music Nights/Family Events: Free
- [Good]Life Kid’s After-school Fun: Free
- Driving Message and Food Tour Events: Ranging from Free to $25
- SaturDads: Kids and Dads meeting at parks on Saturdays to give moms a break: Free
- Address: Mailing Address: 14781 Pomerado Rd, #211, Poway, CA 92064
- Website: uncommongoodsd.com
David Manning, Tony Sorci, Ryan Ross, Cody Vermillion