From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This week, we had the privilege of having Rebecca Pauls, from ‘Plan’ in BC, join us in Fenelon Falls. This not-for-profit works on creating networks and circles of support with families, and Rebecca shared some of her wisdom on how to mobilize with groups that express interest. She told us that the key jumping-off point to this type of work is overcoming our fears about community. She urged us, as a group, to see the community as a welcoming place that is brimming over with open and positive people just waiting to be invited. She is right.
I think that we sometimes get caught up in this new era of self-sufficiency and isolated World Wide Web living, that we do become a little fearful. What if I smile at the person pumping gas next to me and they call the police because they mistake me for a maniac? What if I strike up a conversation with the cashier and he becomes annoyed that I am slowing him down? What if I ask this employer if he wants to know more about our work and he flatly refuses?
The conversations we had this week about a natural circle had to recognize that natural connections and social circles are beginning to be counter cultural. Gathering in groups to share gifts and interests is not done as often and no one needs to borrow a cup of sugar anymore – there is always a 24 hour mini-mart close enough to stop us from invading someone’s privacy.
What changes if we tell ourselves that the community is waiting for an invitation? Perhaps, we start seeing more of what we are looking for – we see people who are just as lonely and isolated, we see gifts and interests and openness where we may not have before. We charge ahead, get curious, stay open and make connections. While I know that this does not instantly turn around isolation and rejection, maybe, if we are believing in the good, the bad fades more and more into the background.
Humans are social creatures. At our very hearts we do want to connect. I usually have sugar in my pantry and, if asked, I would gladly scoop you a cup. Most of us have things we love or know a lot about, and if asked, I bet most would scoop a cup of that just as readily.