As mentioned, last month, I made my annual journey to the Toronto Summer Institute. One of the many great lessons learned smacked me across my face via friend and colleague Tim Vogt. I’ll get to Tim in a bit. (By the way, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read the blog Tim hosts, you must! It is fabulous. www.cincibility.wordpress.com) We spent 3 days together in a module hosted by Connie Lyle O’Brien and Lynda Kahn, centered around the idea of isolation. Our group, about 12 people each day, shared personal stories of not belonging, feeling isolated and about friends and family members experiencing these feelings. We shared how we actually may be contributing to isolation, entering into a vulnerability where support and real ideas emerged.
The conversation shifted to sharing stories of how we may be combatting isolation, with this question: “What are each of us doing in our personal lives to create cultures of connection and welcome?” Around the room the conversation floated, again with a vulnerability so profound, tears flowed warmly, welcomed to the group by all present, as if to say “Oh, we’ve been expecting you.” This conversation resonates with me today and will forever. It is at the core of my belief system…what am I doing to create a welcome wherever I go and with whomever I am with? What are my kids experiencing as they grown up?
Back to the face-slapping, Aha-moment from Tim. Tim came to this year’s gathering with a mission to attend an event happening at a restaurant/bar called No One Writes To The Colonel. Two local gentlemen put together a group called ‘Choir! Choir! Choir!’. These men host a weekly event at this restaurant where local citizens come, eat, drink and sing. They take pop music and compose songs into choir arrangements. People show up, no matter their skill level, with a willingness to sing, have a good time and be with others. They divide people simply into “highs, mediums and lows” then spend the next few hours practicing the song, culminating with a recorded rendition. What these two men are doing, is sharing their gift…their gift of music creates a ‘place of goodness’. People connect, spend time together, laugh, sing and cheer. They go home, probably to sleep quite well and wake up with a sense of hope in humanity.
Tim cruised over to this restaurant with 5 other TSI attendees and participated in the evening. His recounting of the evening brought goosebumps all over my body and the following statement is where the slap happened: “Connection, jobs, relationships, especially in our work with people living on the margins, and for us as citizens, these things aren’t coming from filling out applications or knocking on doors. We need to look for places of goodness. Where we can go every Tuesday night. Where we can bring our kids. It’s from these places where connection, relationships and jobs emerge. How do we create our own places of goodness back home?”
Wow! I immediately began scouring my brain, thinking of already existing ‘places of goodness’ I may know of back home and further, what can I create?! Tim’s right. When we think of isolation, and it is the world’s largest, most dangerous condition or disability, and we think of what we’ve been doing…well something isn’t working completely well. But if we just slow ourselves down a bit and think of ‘places of goodness’, doesn’t that make a ton of sense? Think about it. What’s already happening in your community? I bet it is there! Concerts in the park every Sunday at 4pm? Bring a picnic. Bring the kids. Share time with others. Is there a ‘Choir! Choir! Choir!’-type gathering happening in your community? Yes. The answer is yes. However, I think what Tim is saying, is we need more. More places of goodness will yield…you’ve got it…more goodness. Isn’t that, well, good?
What are the ‘places of goodness’ in your communities? Please share them in the comments section!! Share the GOOD!!!