South Sherman Pioneer Village

About ten years ago I had this dream:

Something happened; a bomb or a war or some sort of disaster and everyone fled. I fled to some place that I knew the rest of my family would go to as well, and they did. So did many other people, friends and strangers alike. After a time of huddling in fear and wondering, we needed to make space for everyone and sort out who goes where, and then who could cook and what there was to eat. And then who could look after all the kids and when it became clear that this was going to be a long term arrangement, who could teach all the kids. Soon we had a list of everyone’s skills and how they could be useful. Everyone pitched in and a sort of pioneer village sprang up and before long no one was left huddling in fear and wondering. There was an incident with a message from another collection of people and to determine if we could collaborate with them, one question was sent to them, “What is important?” And the answer that came back? “People, people are important.”

This past Saturday the South Sherman Community Planning Team held an IMAGINE session where we got together with neighbours to imagine and describe what our neighbourhood would be like three generations from now after all of our dreams had been realized. And we ended the day with the fifty-cent question: “What are the priorities that we need to focus on now to make all of this possible later?” And the people who had come out, had given up their Saturday to help envision the future together, said that people were the priority: relationships, communication, engagement.

And today I realized that we are in the dream. That the disaster was a slow and poisonous one that sapped people’s self confidence and trust; it was an invisible, intangible disaster that left desolation in its wake instead of devastation. Devastation is so much easier to deal with than desolation.

And yet, here we are; believing that people are important, getting to know each other, finding out what each of us is good at and pitching in to make a difference. To make our own pioneer village.

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Sharing

“I like you and I would share anything with you,” says five-year-old Ivan. It struck me as being the highest compliment.

What if we could all share, a little bit more, with a few more people? Food is more fun when it is shared. Time is more fun when it is shared. Ideas and projects are more fun when they are shared. Usually more successful too.

I like you and I would share anything with you. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Kids are a Gas

Sam Falzone says that kids are a gas. He means that they expand to fill the space they occupy. The analogy continues that teenagers are liquid: fluid and changing. And adults? Adults are solid, hardened in their outlook, firm in their beliefs.

Constantly berated to get real, to be in the here and now, to be rational, our hearts follow that same devolution. Once able to encompass a whole room with limitless affection, we become increasingly selective to finally wonder why we are lonely, alone, after having closed ourselves off from everyone.

We call it different things, like set in our ways, but it comes down to a relentless path to isolation. We are better than some and others are better than us and finally there is no one just like us. We are alone.

The only solution I can see is to embrace diversity without reserve.

Expand to fill the room you occupy.

Super Molly

Molly has come for crepes the last few weeks and each time she comes she draws a picture for the wall of the cafe. “I’m so good at doing art I can’t stand it!” she says. Yesterday she invented Molly Rockets Dipped in Chocolate, “It starts out chocolatey, and then the rocket takes off!”

“Community, can you watch my kid while I go to the washroom?” says her mom. I can’t tell you how moving it was to hear that. That she’s created a self-reliant trusting kid and we’ve created an environment she can trust, where kids can be themselves and know that all of the grownups are on their side.

I can’t wait for the day when all kids feel like they belong, everywhere.