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This past Sunday we completed our 26th month of walking every Sunday weatherpermitting and with a few exceptions in Longmont neighborhoods and we estimate that we only have another approximately 36 more months of neighborhood walks to go before we will have walked, met, talked and made our great citizens feel they belong! In all of Longmont’s neighborhoods! And during our 26thmonths of walking we have met talked to and enjoyed being with 1,800 or more of Longmont’sbeautiful caring people, who come from allwalks of life and who I feel deeply that we helped them to feel they “Belong” that they are for sure “accepted” that Longmont is THEIR city! No matter their social or financial status, their race, color, gender, or their ethnicity.
And this past Sunday on our walk I came to fully realize how indeed our “Belonging Revolution” is oh so the right thing to be doing!! YES! For sure with our “Belonging Revolution” we can make a huge difference in healing wounds and making a comfortable and secure feeling for all of us in our beautiful Longmont Community!
And thank you Michelle for walking with us last Sunday your smile and easy going manner was infectious!
A different kind of Sunday stroll in central Longmont. We've walked the last several Sundays in this part of the community. We started a little late because the days are cooler. And then around 11am, we ran into the Denver Broncos - their game started. We did have about a half dozen conversations before the neighborhood looked totally abandoned. We were joined by Michelle Webb, someone who has agreed to bring her many and varied gifts to our community in any way possible. As she said to us to today, "I am on a mission and I am excited to see where it takes me!"
Keeping with the theme that there is true abundance in our neighborhoods...
We know there are people with fallibilities in our neighborhoods. We also believe there is room for forgiveness between and amongst in neighborhoods that are characterized by a culture of abundance. During Sunday's walk, we encountered a person who self admitted to struggling with his mental health, another who told us he spent 23 years in prison and yet another who offered that he "got into a lot of trouble in his earlier days." Perhaps a conspicuous capacity of a neighborhood with a culture of abundance is that it accepts the human limitations of others. It seems in these type of neighborhoods, one's limitations are intertwined with one's gifts. I think we could all agree that in an abundant community, we easily accept the constraints of others and realize that our personal frailties, while a fact of life, don't diminish us.
Pete and Donna were taking a stroll to the local bike shop when we met them. A lively couple, both Pete and Donna accepted our invitation to be part of building our community. Pete freely acknowledged that he has been diagnosed with bipolar and offered to help in our ongoing community conversations around mental health. Pete also talked of his work with the University of Colorado in their research about bipolar.
Russ and Laurie were also taking a walk when we said hello. They talked about their neighborhood and the stop sign infractions near them. They eloquently described their neighborhood and the sense of place they felt with a communal consciousness-like rhapsody. They also accepted our invitation to help.
James was sitting on a chair inside his garage when he said "howdy" to us. I've learned that "howdy" is a great segue to a great conversations between strangers. Surely an old timer in our community, James revealed that he had spent 23 years in prison. He freely offered his background to us in a non-shameful way and talked about lessons learned. He loves his neighborhood. A lovely man with stories to tell.
As we approached Brad, we could hear the '60s music coming from his garage. Brad was just friendly. He talked of his two sons serving overseas in the military. Brad seemed to have a flag for every occasion. He had three flags flying outside of his house and another half dozen flags flying within his garage. Brad, a man of principle and symbols, told us of his earlier days and the struggles he had. Brad also accepted our invitation to become more involved in our community.
Buzz was an interesting character. When he learned what I did for a living, he immediately talked of the all of the red-light violations in town. He claims they happen everywhere and he's probably right. Buzz had strong opinions about the rapid growth of our community; Buzz encouraged people to vote for Trump and Buzz also accepted our invitation to become more involved.
Forgiveness is the willingness to come to terms with our own wounded-ness and the wounds of others. Healing is the re-remembering of the past in a more forgiving way. The essence of belonging is feeling safely cocooned in ways so we can completely, fully and without shame let others know our darker side. We all have a powerful need and desire to feel the warmth of someone's acceptance and forgiveness when we reveal our frailties. Pete, James and Brad believed we would hold their frailties and stories with the reverence and care warranted. We were honored they trusted us enough to reveal a part of their past and their humanness. We hoped we added to the culture of abundance that already exists in their neighborhood though our Belonging Revolution!
I was thrilled to be invited to join Chief Butler and Dan on their Belonging Revolution walk. We made at least 7 stops to visit with area neighbors. All of them had lived in Longmont for many years, including one neighbor who has been here for 70 years! One of the things that many of the people we spoke with appreciated about Longmont is that it's a town of its own, with its own personality, rather than a suburb of Boulder. That is one of the things that I love about Longmont, too.
Everyone confirmed that they felt safe in our community, and that they "belonged." I couldn't help but notice that when Chief Butler asked if they felt safe, they seemed surprised by the question. I took that to be a testament to the level of safety that they do feel, and experience, here. While some people talked about Longmont being an affordable alternative to other area communities, we encountered a single mom who mentioned her struggles with finding an affordable home for her and her family. She shared that she works 60 hours a week in order to support her family, which prevented her from accepting Chief Butler's invitation to participate with him in his mission down the road. It occurred to me later that even though some may decline this invitation, it's possible that these same people may unknowingly participate by simply leading as best as they can within their own families, and that doing so has its own value in a community.
What struck me most on our walk was witnessing the deep friendship between Chief Butler and Dan. It's clear that they are kindred spirits, with big open hearts, on a shared mission. I'm so grateful that they allowed me to participate. The Belonging Revolution is one that I hope spreads to other communities, especially to those that are currently suffering from a severe sense of disconnection, and all of the turmoil that goes with that. Many of the cities featured in recent high profile news stories come to mind. Creating a sense of belonging may be the path to healing, for individuals and for communities. Once one knows the history of Longmont, one understands how belonging has healed - and continues to heal - our community.
Thank you, Dan Benavidez