Friday, March 15, 2019

Weaving our society back together

Loneliness.

It's an epidemic in US and British society. It's a risk factor for early death. It leads to anger (even shootings) and drug abuse.

Now a group under the Aspen Institute is trying to do something about it.

The question for each of us is: What can I do today and tomorrow to replace loneliness, division and distrust with relationship, community and purpose?
Weave is a community of people who are helping each other answer this question. We seek to learn from those who are weaving communities everywhere, establishing connection, building relationships, offering care and creating intimacy and trust. We want to spread the values they live out every day. We want to be part of a cultural revolution that replaces a culture of hyper-individualism with a culture of relationalism, a way of living that puts our connections with one another at the center of our lives. The revolution will be moral or it will not be at all.

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/weave-the-social-fabric-initiative/

A personal anecdote: When my husband and I moved from the country to Portland, Oregon to be 'close to people,' we discovered almost no one on our street knew one another. When I asked, people shrugged. "People are busy. Their networks are through work." They didn't know what they were missing until I hosted a discussion group for 6 weeks, just to lock them in a room long enough to get to know one another. A half dozen households or so on the 4-block-long street participated. At the end, everyone said, "This was GREAT! We should keep it going." It turned into monthly potlucks which wove the neighborhood together.  We ate great food and laughed and got to know one another. Kids played together.

Word got out.  It started to take a long time to walk down the street because we'd get drawn into conversations. One day a woman drove down the street, stopped at a cluster of us chatting on the sidewalk and rolled down her window. "I understand everyone knows everyone on this street. I'm looking for Emma who baby sits. Do you know which house is hers?" We did. People started buying homes on the street to be part of it.

When an elderly neighbor got a compression fracture, we took care of her for a month until her daughter could come help. One person took her to the doctor, another shopped, I cleaned the cat box. When our Muslim neighbors' house was vandalized, fearing it was a hate crime, I gave them the keys to our house as we were just leaving on vacation. "Please, take your kids and move into our house."

For years, people thanked me for getting this started. But I had to keep reminding them, I did it for me. I was hungry for community. I just needed them to want it too.

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