April 8, 2011

How to Build a Community.

A contemplative introduction to social entrepreneurship and connecting with others by Avery McChristian.

When I caught up with Avery recently, we pulled up stools in a dark corner bar in south Philadelphia.  The conversation moved quickly from the usual banter of old friends to our latest conquests in “deep thinking.”  His latest exploration into contemplative theory challenged me to constantly improve my understanding of topics we found to discuss.

Over the years our small junto always seemed to wrestle with understanding the significance of community and our relation to those around us.  That is, until, I opened an email a few days later  in which he had managed to identify what community means and sum it all up in one simple bullet list that caused me to stop what I was doing and say, “this is  it!”

Turn off your TV
Leave your house
Know your neighbors
Look up when you are walking
Greet people
Sit on your stoop
Plant flowers
Use your library
Play together
Buy from local merchants
Share what you have
Help a lost dog
Take children to the park
Garden together
Support neighborhood schools
Fix it even if you didn’t break it
Have pot lucks
Honor elders
Pick up litter
Read stories aloud
Dance in the street
Talk to the mail carrier
Listen to the birds
Put up a swing
Help carry something heavy
Barter for your goods
Start a tradition
Ask a question
Hire young people for odd jobs
Organize a block party
Bake extra and share
Ask for help when you need it
Open your shades
Sing together
Share your skills
Take back the night
Turn up the music
Turn down the music
Listen before you react to anger
Mediate a conflict
Seek to understand
Learn from new and uncomfortable angles
Know that no one is silent though many are not heard, Work to change this.

-Avery McChristian

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