Rise up, all you by-standers, talk is cheap!

When some random person shows up at a meeting of community volunteers and takes issue with the way things are being done but doesn’t want to come out to help, I have to say, my patience wanes.

The issue at the recent South Stipeley meeting was that there was a message from one of the churches in our Newsletter and someone who read it was offended that we were printing church messages, that it implied an affiliation.

Hello! We are affiliated; we hold our meetings at New Westminster Church. The church minister is our treasurer. St Giles Church is the anchor for the Community Hub. The complainant wanted us to stop running church stuff because other organizations aren’t represented. Rise up all you other organizations and get involved! If a thing looks lopsided, it’s better to add more than to take away what you’ve got.

Last year, five Hamilton churches from different denominations got together and asked themselves how they could be helpful and make a difference in the lives of people in the neighbourhood, even those who weren’t members of any of the churches. Together they collaborated to initiate and sponsor the South Sherman Hub where the local planning team (of volunteers!) works to engage the community in sustainable improvements. This is a good thing.

I remember being a theatre student at university. Theatre is one of the most logistically driven industries in existence, with everything planned to the second and planned way way way in advance. My job was to secure some sound equipment from the university’s media department. After handing it over, the guy says “It’s due back in three days”. Three days! Our show runs for two weeks, I told him, steam coming out my ears at his impenetrable obtuseness. “So”, he said, “it’s due back in three days.” I protested some more, to which he replied, “We aren’t the theatre department supply depot. Theatre isn’t the only department in the university”. Oh. I see. And my own impenetrable obtuseness became gallingly clear.

After that he became my go-to guy when I needed things and we figured out creative ways to get what we needed without hogging equipment.

After our random neighbour had dominated most of the meeting with newsletter griping, or church griping, or whatever it was, that was it. She didn’t pitch in on the food drive or community garden or graffiti measures, or neighbourhood watch. I invited her to lend a hand and get the other organizations in the area to participate, to submit their blurbs to the newsletter, but she declined. It makes me wonder if some people are just take-take-take.

Or maybe it will sink in later and we will become her go-to team when she starts to feel a little bit inclusive. Maybe, she will even join the team.


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