Our walk last Sunday the 4th of September one of such inclusivity so much of the true spirit of “Belongingness” how cool itwas to meet and talk with Vanna and Thom from Cambodia although with some difficulty due to language barriers since they spoke very little English but we did find a way. They were out working on building a fence along their home and how magnificent it was when they related to us that they indeed did feel they belonged and loved Longmont, that they felt no discrimination in our great City and that their neighbors around the block as were her neighbors a few house from their house were Latinos who spoke a very little English but were always communicating with them and asking if they needed help! I mean that is what it is all about caring for each other! Neighbor helping neighbor no matter race, color or language. And laughing and sharing with Javier about our journeys as Latinos in our beautiful caring Longmont Community. And talking and sharing with Ray who has lived in Longmont all of his 74 years of life and we knew each other even though we never met because we met through knowing each other because of City events and happenings. Wow how nice he was!
Thank you Mike for starting our “Belonging Revolution” in our beautiful caring Longmont Community and I love our walks… just love our “Belonging Revolution” walks!!
We walked a neighborhood in northeast Longmont Sunday - a neighborhood in which longtime homeownership was prevalent.
Javier was the first person we met. He was an obviously up front, you-see-what-you-see man. He possessed great enthusiasm for life. Javier spoke of a difficult past and that he never finished high school. He also spoke of his commitment to his three children and that he needs to work hard to provide for them. We had a really good conversation filled with humor and bits of hard reality. When invited to help, Javier jumped at the opportunity!
Ray has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years (in the same house) and in Longmont his whole life - 74 years. We spent quite a bit of time listening to Ray describe the changes in Longmont over this period of time. Ray was full of many funny stories about his life and about the neighborhood. Ray was not shy and was quite clear about his perspectives and opinions. Quite a bit of wisdom coming from Ray.
Kevin has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. He knows his neighbors and believes his neighborhood is very safe. He loves Longmont and spoke about how he has turned his garage into a bike repair shop where he fixes bikes for those in the community who need bikes. It is amazing how many people fly below the radar screen but bring their gifts to others in a non-fanfare sort of way. Kevin brings his handy person skills to his neighbors.
We spoke with Vanna and Thom from Cambodia. Thom was rebuilding a privacy fence. Both struggled to speak English and neither Dan nor I spoke Cambodian. However, we managed to share enough to get the distinct impression that Vanna and Thom love their neighborhood and have met many friendly neighbors. Vanna and Thom live their lives with courage as they immerse themselves into a different culture with different languages but want so much to be part of.
There is little interest in institutionalizing our Belonging Revolution - bringing more standardization, predictability, control and consistency into our Sunday walks. While I work for local government, there is absolutely no marketing of City services. We do not arrive in a neighborhood with preconceived goals. There is no asking of people to yield their sovereignty in exchange for systems, predictability and certainty. We want to keep it as personal and as "unpredictable" as we can filled with the spontaneity and the surprises we find every Sunday. Each neighborhood is unique; every person we meet has their story and their variation of life in our community.
There is not this culture or that culture. Culture is individualized - no two people see the world the same way. The humanity of each person we meet is what is paramount in our Belonging Revolution.
And while human problems and deficiencies in the aggregate do exist, there is no interest on the part of our Belonging Revolution in taking the human conditions we encounter and commodifying them. Our humanness and fallibilities are not for sale nor can they fixed by systems or the promise of satisfaction by those who wish to sell their services.
Ultimately, we believe that community grows out of the possibility of citizens. Community is built not by specialized expertise, or great leaders, or improved services; it is built by great citizens!
Thank you, Dan