"The body is a community made up of its innumberable cells or inhabitants"
No matter how many times I put the event on my calendar and made plans to attend, something always bumped it off and I had to reschedule. In fact, Network staffer Jessie Potish and I would joke about it in emails. Lots of emails. And while those "somethings" were important (such as a school event night or travel to Washington DC to talk with the Department of Education) but this was important too. So when I was finally able to attend my first Network Center for Community Change Network Nite, I was elated.
Now I've been to an NC3 meeting in our community about educational attainment in connection with the 55K Degrees initiative. Attending the NC3 Idea Swap and Shop was enlightening and certainly worth my morning, but that was business, brainstorming, and barnstorming (about how we can better improve family engagement within the community in connection to college and career readiness). I wanted to be a part of "Network Nite" where members from all over the community come together to share about what they do and how they can help others. For instance, Louisville Time Bank presented about spending more time with one another (for one another) and not just money. Job Corps, JCTC, and others presented about opportunities in education. As we all sat and listened, the microphone was passed around and new members (such as myself) said hello, and told one good thing that has happened to them recently. Even the children who are present. Everyone celebrated our good news as a family would and should: with cheers and applause.
And that's the point. NC3 is about visualizing your community as a family.
|with Lynn Greene (Zen Mama Media) and Dana Jackson (NC3)|
Because NC3 believes in using "each other's creativeness and resourcefulness to solve problems at a grassroots level." Because we all have talents. Each of us has something to contribute to our community. Whether we can bank some time at the time bank (I can offer three hours of social networking tips and help you create a blog. I just need two hours of painting a room in return) or offer our perspective on what we can do in our city to help make it...sustainable. I also recently wrote about this in a guest blog for Volunteer Spot about why making those connections and sharing one's talents is what makes a community not just survive, but thrive.
Which is something I've given a great deal of thought too recently. I've been reading Karen Mapp's book A Match On Dry Grass. And although this book is specific to community organizing in connection with transforming education, it also is about creating common goals, one of which is to "strive to give voice to the voiceless" (19). So gathering with people I have never met before, to share ideas, to have a meal, to connect with one another for the sole purpose of transforming the community in which we all live is important. It is important that we stand together, holding the hands of strangers in order for them to become friends. It is important that we bless our meal and the hands that prepared it, our voices united. It is important that we look around and say, we are the example to the children standing in this room. They need the very best of us: the best intentions, the best ideas, the best solutions, the best actions.
Because as Karen Mapp says, "healthy communities are dynamic" they change and grow over time. But only by coming together in situations that foster respect and through shared stories can we see that there are common threads from which we can create paths to action. For instance, we may not all agree on the best ways in which to educate children, or what should be done with a neighborhood once all the abandoned homes are finally removed or refurbished, but we can agree that we must educate our children in the best of all possible ways and that by addressing housing issues we can create a more livable community and city.
NC3 announced that after seven years they are now 4700 members strong.
That number is incorrect. After the other night, they are now 4701 members strong.
And NC3 is currently looking to hire a Network Organizer...will you be 4702?