Tag Archives: Neighbors

Eliot Dawn arrives with a lesson…

Mama belly...

Mama belly…

We write in this blog about community existing everywhere.  At home, at work, in temporary locations, etc.  Our daughter arrived early, Saturday February 2nd (yes Groundhog Day got a whole lot more meaningful), at 8:48am.  She arrived at home, a decision Jody and I made about 4 weeks prior to her arrival.  A decision based on strong beliefs and values behind the way we view child birth…what unfolded was a lesson not expected.

I know...this picture was in Linda's post...but it is beautiful :)

I know…this picture was in Linda’s post…but it is beautiful 🙂

Noticeably in active labor around 2am, Eliot’s journey began.  We called our midwives, Jamin and LaShel, to inform them Eliot was on her way.  Jamin and LaShel are the owners of San Diego Midwife, a midwifery practice comprised of just the two of them.

Jamin and Eliot...

Jamin and Eliot…

LaShel weighs Eliot...

LaShel weighs Eliot…

They believe in partnering with people, in strong relationship, to help achieve the birth parents desire.  This isn’t a soap-box rant on home birth, rather, I feel compelled to share my gratitude to them, for their willingness to take us on at 35 weeks of pregnancy, and to do so with love and respect.

Eliot Dawn minutes after her birth...

Eliot Dawn minutes after her birth…

Throughout the wee hours of the morning, the gifts of doing everything at home steadily emerged.  Grandma Cass picked up our dog at 2:30am before traveling back at 5am to be here and tend to Rhiannon and Kade when they woke up.  Grandma Lorrie and Papa John, called at 6am to alert them to Eliot’s impending arrival, so they could make the 2 hour journey.  Copious amounts of friends and family, kept abreast along the way via text messaging.  Eliot’s community thoughtfully rallying in different capacities, gathering momentum, power and love all the while.

Jody and Eliot...

Jody and Eliot…

Jody, focussed and calm, realized her vision of having a natural birth, at home, with people who valued her beliefs and honored her wishes.  At 8:48am, Eliot found herself on the chest of the woman who carried her for 39 weeks.  The moment beautiful.  Love permeated the room and house.

The girls...

The girls…

Eliot, after a few moments of natural cries, gently rested with her mother.  Peaceful and alert, Eliot bonded with mom, myself and being at home, I brought Rhiannon and Kade in right away to meet their baby sister.  It made sense.  It felt right.  It felt as it should.

Family all around...

Family all around…

Papa John and Eliot...

Papa John and Eliot…

Eliot Dawn entered this world with an intentional community surrounding her.  Not born in an institution, poked and prodded by professionals, rather, with the support of whole-person-based midwives and perhaps more importantly, with the people who will comprise her circle of support beyond the days of her birth.

Uncle Jeff, Cousin Jake and Eliot...

Uncle Jeff, Cousin Jake and Eliot…

Family, friends and neighbors all able to see her on the day she was born, in her own home, in the community she will grow up in.

Best friends...

Best friends…

Community exists everywhere, and for us, Eliot’s birth was a lesson in just that.  When we are mindful of being connected with those around us, in every moment, we realize our humanity.  Thanks to everyone for the love and support on that day, in days past and days to come.  I am grateful for this latest lesson. Bravo Eliot Dawn…bravo!

Eliot Dawn

Eliot Dawn

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Eventually, All Things Merge Into One…

This week we welcome our inaugural Guest Blogger, Sarah Forbes.  Sarah resides in Melbourne, Australia, works with individuals labeled with disability, and is equally curious about the idea of connection and kinship.  Sit back and enjoy her contribution…

 

“Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes and indirect boast”, Jane Austen.

I’ve often found myself living across two worlds, two groups, two ways of thinking about life. I grew up in a home where conflict was common and money was scarce, particularly during my adolescence. I also went to a well-performing private school, thanks to my grandfather’s generosity. I became good at covering up our family’s poverty, trying to fit in with well-off and wealthy students, but remaining in an existence between the two. On weekends I tried to fit into our rural community, and on weekdays with my suburban school friends. At the church our family attended, I was the one asking questions of leaders who didn’t welcome questioning. I’m also a person who is adopted, straddling two families where I am both citizen and guest. Many times growing up I felt like I belonged nowhere which grew my motivation for living in ways that might help others feel more included.

Almost five years ago, my husband, new baby girl and I moved into a neighbourhood known for its poor, troubled, unemployed and disrespected people. The location is beautiful and the price was right. Our home perches on the edge of the Yarra River, which runs from the mountains near our home all the way through Melbourne and into the ocean. On a hot day, after rain, the river smells of eucalyptus, native mint and, like home to me. On a very hot day, people from all over the neighbourhood congregate at the river to occupy the best swimming spots, enjoy a beer and a smoke and catch up with new and old friends. People share their food and their belongings, they check up on one another, they know each other’s business enough to enlist the help of others when someone is sick or broke.

Elizabeth, Val and the Yarra River

Elizabeth, Val and the Yarra River

We have friendships with neighbours who have a variety of labels, particularly ‘bludger’, ‘alcoholic’ and ‘bad news’. Our closest neighbour Mark is dying from asbestosis and is known to some by at least two of those labels. He has lived a life of unrequited love and the worst kinds of loss and violence. Many of our friends and family have questioned our friendship with him, simply because they don’t yet see him for what he offers but rather for the trouble he might make for us. Yet he is the person I would call on when I need gardening advice and the person my children know to go to if Mummy falls off the ladder and Daddy isn’t home. He offers counselling, advice, explains to me how social situations work and he looks after our pets when we are away from home. He sometimes takes my washing in because rain is imminent, and he waters my plants if they look droopy. He reassures us that we’re good enough parents. We worry after him, and he worries after us.

tim and mark at valentine's first birthday party, January 2011

There are many others in our neighbourhood who have suffered unrelenting abuse, who use drugs too often, who are often without food in the house because they trade off the grocery budget for prescriptions or beer or petrol for friend in need. My husband Tim remains their preferred confidant, because they see in him a worldliness that they don’t see in me. Despite all my efforts, people who have experienced desperate suffering typically see through my tough exterior to my naivety about what it is like to be the object or perpetrator of human violence, of what it takes to cooperate with child protective services enough to prove that you deeply love your children, and they protect me from their reality by keeping the worst of the truth from me.

It is sometimes hard to see what I have to offer in the midst of people who understand the world in ways so differently to me. The challenge is to see my talents and skills as useful in their context, and to see in others the same. The greater challenge lies in both offering the space for people who experience deep disadvantage to contribute to my life, and for me to take up that space in the lives of people who might welcome me in when my skills seem useful to them – to offer equal exchange. The deep question for us is: How can we be sure that all people are welcomed, even people who are known for violence, people who sell drugs to children in our neighbourhood, people who might steal from us, even people who might mistreat our children given the chance? The answer comes from figuring it out one day at a time, in concert with people who care enough to ask the same question.

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Thank You!

Linda and I want to thank everyone for supporting this blog, adding thoughtful comments and sharing with others.  It was a great start in 2012, and we look forward to continuing on in 2013.  Take a quick couple of minutes to watch the video posted of John McKnight, one of our wonderful teachers and inspiration for this blog, talk about making the invisible, visible.  Happy New Year!

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Neighborhood Cookies…

The baking begins...

The baking begins…

Last year we decided to start a tradition…neighborhood cookies! In an effort to reach out and get to know our neighbors, the holiday season provides an atmosphere conducive to this very thing, we bake and deliver cookies to our neighbors.  In addition, it affords an opportunity to teach a few lessons to our children along the way.

First, the work behind the cookies. The baking, decorating, preparing and packaging. Jody, my beautiful wife, spent the majority of the day mixing, rolling, baking and decorating a variety of cookies, all the while engaging Rhiannon and Kade in the process.

Kade decorating...

Kade decorating…

Appreciating and valuing the preparation and origin of the food we eat has become a focal point in our family, adding another great lesson for us to teach our kids. Near day’s end, the table overflowed with heartfelt goodness.

Staging area...

Staging area…

The loading of plates into our mobile delivery system began!

Loading the delivery wagon...

Loading the delivery wagon…

Baking the cookies, the time spent preparing (a bit of eating) and decorating, all led to the best part of the day…the delivery! Going door to door to give our neighbors these plates of cookies seems like a gift from us to them, but in my eyes, it is a gift to us as people who share a block of space in our community.

Off we go...

Off we go…

The opportunity be with old friends, neighbors we know well, enhances our sense of belonging to one another.

The Beeson's receiving their cookies...

The Beeson’s receiving their cookies…

The opportunity to use this time to meet one or two new neighbors and future friends, brings a sense of hope. RonA hope that this “life time” of neighboring, and practice of welcoming, will help facilitate the abundant community that we seek. The lessons learned and taught by all of us, will hopefully pave a way to a better place to live for our children. One where we stop being too busy to know each other, care for each other and rely on each other. All people who share this place we call our neighborhood. We just need to invite people in…and perhaps, during this season, one plate of cookies at a time!

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Be the yeast…

A while back, I shared with you an open letter to my church community…an invitation to begin  learning about who we are as individuals and as a community of people.  Having been immersed in this practice now for a couple months, I checked back in with people via our newsletter…and as promised, I’m using this space to keep you abreast of how things are going.

Breaking bread together…

As we move forward with our learning conversations, the process of getting to know each other as a means of fostering deep connections, we begin to realize the power that exists within ourselves, and our relationships with one another.  Continue reading

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Rhiannon’s gift…

 

Rhiannon and her two bags…

On our way out the door on Halloween evening for our trick or treating, I spotted what appeared to be an over-zealous Rhiannon carrying two bags.  While I admire her vision, I approached her and said “Sweetheart, you only need one bag.”  She looked up, her big blue eyes looking at me as if to say “Why would you get in the way of what I’m about to do…”  It wasn’t until Jody, her mother, my wife, came up to me and told me what was in one of the bags. Continue reading

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A week of hospitality evolves into 90 days of gratitude…

One of many great conversations…

Upon landing in Indianapolis on Sunday October 21st, the incredible week of welcome, invitation, hospitality, learning, conversation, openness and storytelling began.  Greeted by old friends, Caitlin and April, along with new friends Amara and Anna, the journey began with bright eyes and open hearts.  Continue reading

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Not Your Ordinary Suggestion Box…

Joy’s suggestion box…

I have the pleasure of collaborating with amazing people from all over the world.  We all share the desire to understand our communities in ways that will enrich our lives and the lives of our neighbors.  Today I’d like to introduce you to Joy Boe, someone I don’t travel far to collaborate with.  Continue reading

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An open letter to one of my communites…

This appears on the front lawn of our church…

For this week’s post, I want to share with you an open letter I wrote to my church congregation.  I’d like to point out that this post is not a testimony about my particular faith, rather, it is simply an invitation to a group of people that I am in relationship with, to start to think about who we are as a community and how we can become better connected with each other. Stay tuned to this blog in the future for updates as to the progress of the project I invited people to participate in below…

“A community filled with gifts, talents and capacities is only vibrant and abundant if those gifts, talents and capacities are visible.  St. Marks is a community of inherent warmth.  It is a community of welcome.  When my family walked through the doors 3 years ago, we remember being greeted with open hearts, open doors and open minds, just like the United Methodist Church slogan reads.  Continue reading

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Only three percent? It’s a start…

What I know about myself is that I am immersed in this search for connection, a feeling of true belonging to my community and neighborhood.  In my everyday work, I teach of the values of connection, community and inclusion. Yet, in my own neighborhood, it is clear that I lack these things.  So I suppose this will out myself a bit, but alas, this is a place of learning and sharing.

I’ve begun the process of getting to know my neighbors.  Continue reading

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