Community Done Right

When you hear the word “community” what do you think?

– Neighborhoods – people borrowing cups of sugar, police officers, libraries, free recreation centers

– Bible studies – singles groups sharing meals and prayer requests on Tuesday nights or sanctuary on Sundays

– Friends at work – departments, structures of support, co-workers to joke with

– Friends with history – no religious connection, but maybe instead a love of beer, or the outdoors, or writing, or art

Does your heart relax into a safe space of comfort or understanding? Or maybe, perhaps you tense up and think I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced something like that?

I think for me, growing up in church environments and having chosen a career in human services, community is a buzz word that I perhaps take for granted. We talk about it so much that at times, it becomes abstract. Something we are always striving for, but not quite sure how to grasp. As a sociology major, the observations of demographics of any group situation overtake my brain, and I start to think, more often than not, about who is NOT sitting at the table, rather than who makes up the voices of our “community”. Community is imperfect, it’s messy, at times we hurt each other. It is throbbing with desires, and interests, and progress, and hope.

That’s what I love about authentic community. When all the ism’s and opportunity, or lack there of, melts away, hope and raw humanity remain. That’s what keeps me at my job, and what fuels my thoughts, and my efforts to make eye contact, or smile at people when I am uncomfortable. This can be challenging for my introverted self.

This week, my beautiful thing, is acknowledging the amazing work that the people at FOCO Cafe have accomplished. A new non-profit near me offers lunch to the community on a “pay as you can” model while offering healthy lunch options to the community at large. If you can contribute for your own meal, you pay your own way. If you need a meal and don’t have the means, you can volunteer your time to earn your lunch. Healthy, organic, delicious options. I know this concept is not unique as others across the nation have similar models. However, this little gem is new to us, and this lunch spot is near my work, an easy walk. My co-workers and I have enjoyed stopping by more than once.

After getting my soup, and paying what I could this week, I sat down to eat, and looked around in awe. Glossy wood floors and cheerful yellow walls welcome you in from the cold. The rustic brick makes you feel like you a part of some local history. By simply walking in the door, you get the choice to participate in something that is not there to indulge my needs, but to make me recognize I can choose to be part of something. At one table I recognized a local city council member eating his lunch. Across the room sat two other social workers clearly in thought and discussion about their day. At another table a family with an elderly woman sat and ate, and two homeless gentleman sat to get warm. My co-worker had her little one with us and his two year old smile connected with many others. This my friends, is a true representation of everyone at the table. The hard work of two brave visionaries created something wonderful. Something warm, and homey, and worth celebrating. Worthy of beauty and of recognition, and of your lunch hour.

Check it out, it will be worth your time. Well done my friends, well done.

New Years Resolution Update

Week One:

Biscotti Flavor – Chocolate Chip

Nail Polish Color – Bump up the Pumps by Essie

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