/ The Beauty of the Talk

Dan Benavidez

When Chief Mike Butler called me on Friday saying to me let’s do a walk this Sunday in the Kensington Street neighborhood I said that be good! See you there. However, on Sunday when I checked the temperature and looked out the window and seen it was breezy I thought Hum may be a little cool and breezy but I headed out the door and went to meet Mike

And Wow! What a very interesting and fulfilling walk it turned out to be!  As we walked down the path the first person we seen sitting in a shelter was Jimmy and we approached him and Mike said to him Good morning I am Mike Butler Longmont Chief of Public safety, and I introduced myself and Jimmy looked at us and said to Mike I know about you and then said to me I know you! Seemed he knew from decades ago when I was helping to deal with the shooting of two Latino young men in our City and he then went on to rant and rave against the police against the justice system verbally beating up on Mike the police and the whole justice system and he shad a blackeye told us that he had a fight with a family member. But ah the beauty of the talk and great example of our belonging revolution was after Mike talked to him or over 20 minutes he softened up evens smiled and came around! Wow! a true example that even the tough ones after talking to Mike soften up and feel they belong!

And how good it was sharing with Chris and she told us about the great community things she was doing and that she served in the Army and her and I as fellow Vets shared a little about that and Christine shared with us about her home which she has been remodeling for several years how friendly and nice they were.

And oh how wonderful I felt after we talked to Socorro the Latina Lady who had fear as a result of the outcome of the elections and who told us she has lived in our City for several decades she spoke very little English and what a great feeling I had when I seen the smile and look of  gratitude on her face when Mike told her not to have fear  that she and her neighbors belong in Longmont ! Yes that was ever so good a feeling know Mike had made this lady to feel that she belonged no matter her Racial heritage!

YES THE BELONGING REVOLUTION down in the neighborhoods with Chief Butler making our neighbors feel they belong is where I belong on Sundays


Mike's Perspective

It was Super Sunday! Dan and I visited another neighborhood on the East side of our community adjacent to the neighborhood we visited last week. The demographics of the neighborhood were mostly Latino. We found people enjoying a neighborhood pocket park, walking to church, strolling with their dogs, visiting with each other and working in their yards. 
Dan and I both commented to each other that there is a noticeable difference between what this neighborhood looked and felt like 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago and 5 years ago. More at peace, calm, refurbished homes, a greater sense of safety, considerably fewer police cars patrolling the streets were the characteristics we both observed.

This particular neighborhood made a spectacular comeback - the theme of Super Sunday.! Perhaps they were not as "gaga'ed" as the Patriots, but coming from way back seemed to be of little concern to the people in this neighborhood! 

Again, another neighborhood that benefitted from a strong partnership with police. Neighbors told of us of previous years in which gangs roamed the streets, graffitied their properties and created fear. Those fears were all in the past...or were they? 

We met Sacoro, a woman who was walking to St. John's church for one of the two large Spanish speaking Catholic masses every Sunday. Sacoro, through translation by Dan, told us of the fear that now exists in their neighborhood because of the national political scene (in so many words). 

We met Jimmy. Oh my! Jimmy is so full of frustration, anger and can't seem to let go of the past. Initially, he was quite pointed in his comments to me about our police officers. We listened to Jimmy berate our police officers for a long time. He was considerably agitated. At one point, I sensed Jimmy wanted to have one more donnybrook with another police officer -me. Jimmy sported a black eye - he revealed he had a fight with a family member recently. Over our conversation, Jimmy calmed. He became very respectful and ultimately agreed to a photograph with me. 

We met Chris and Christine - neighbors for eight years. They spoke of the many changes that have occurred in their neighborhood. Chris is a major neighborhood connector. She is constantly trying to galvanize her neighborhood. She is utilizing NextDoor, an Internet program that offers neighbors an opportunity to let each other what's happening in their neighborhood. Christine is an animal control officer in another community but explicitly made the comment that she would rather live in Longmont than the community she works in - "Longmont is much friendlier and I just love my neighborhood!" Both wholeheartedly agreed to be part of our efforts to raise our community's social capital - they could not wait. 

We met Sarah who was walking her dog, Charlie. Sarah was visiting a friend in Longmont but commented that she believes Longmont was one of the friendliest towns she knows of. 

Sunday's walk was inspiring to us! We both felt refreshed and renewed afterwards. It reminded us that there are treasures hidden in plain sight within and amongst us and that we can continually renew our democracy as we go! 

The power of personal connection was my take-away for the day. It played out in every one of our encounters especially with Jimmy. Initially Jimmy was very pointed in his agitation with me and by the end of our twenty-minute conversation, Jimmy was actually kind, respectful and actually seemed a little regretful that our conversation ended. I am not sure I made a friend for life, but I hope I was able to reflect back to Jimmy that infinite spark that resides in each of us. And it is so true - softness can deflate (Super Bowl analogy intended) the hardness.

Dan was simply amazing on our walk today. He is true Belonging Revolutionary!