Well, I observed, observed, observed, as promised. So, here are some early reflections on my two weeks of pondering setting up a community feast in Ratho…
1. People are kind. I actually already knew this (clever me, eh?!) but it really is starker when you are nervous about something and everyone is supportive and lovely about it. Messages of support came via Facebook, from friends in the village, and in the response of the local Community Development Worker.
2. I am reluctant to be a leader. This is not the case in my professional capacity, but (as I described in my last post) I am fearful of being seen to step on toes as I step up to make things happen. But also, I have been part of community groups where nobody leads, and they fell apart fairly swiftly. I have been reading some interesting ideas from the Art of Hosting, and perhaps there is some useful learning to be had there. We could all lead ourselves, together, if we build some foundations from which to grow. I am still learning and reflecting on that.
3. Some people will assume that this “isn’t meant for them”. And I am really, really keen to make the welcome clear, to leave nobody out in the cold. So I need to work hard on getting the message out that this IS for children and babies, for people who live alone, for people who need friendship, for connectors, for people who know how to make a meal like this work, and for people who might keep the rest of us on our toes by behaving in ways we don’t expect. It is for every person who lives in this village. But how do I make that clear? I am still reflecting on that, too.
4. There is a desire for connection. I felt it in myself last week when my baby and I were stuck in the house for a couple of days, full of cold. I am lucky that I have few days like that; mostly we meet with people every day. But for those two days, I kept looking out of the window as people walked past, hoping they might catch my eye and wave at us. There will be people in this village who feel like that most days for one reason or another and I sincerely want to contribute to reducing that experience for my fellow villagers.
5. Ratho is already quite a busy and connected wee place. Also, I have found way more ‘ins’ now that we have a baby. These two facts tell me that this village can sustain all kinds of coming together and events. But it also reminds me to reach towards those people who might not have a family context in which to meet their neighbours; I know people here who feel excluded from that scene.
So now, I need to make this happen. The response has been positive, there is room for this to happen here, my hunch appears to be proved right. I had a really encouraging conversation with the guy who runs the community centre and he is going to speak to the Community Council.
But I had one more reflection. This evening (it is Sunday, the night before this post is due up) I knew the only reason I was going to knuckle down and write this was because this blog isn’t just MY project. I would be letting Kirk down if I didn’t post, and that is what has made sure I am still turning up and posting, over a year since we started this blog. That and my promise to you, our readers. The ‘readers’ will be the folk who turn up at the meal each month, but I think I need a co-author.