Wow! Three years ago, in July of 2014 when Chief Butler called me to walk with him in an East Longmont neighborhood would I have ever imagined that we would last Sunday the 2nd of July be starting our 4th year in walking on Sundays in Longmont neighborhoods!
Mike, you are for real in your dedication to start a feeling of belonging by all our neighbors in our Longmont Community! And WOW! Last Sunday when we once again walked in a Kensington street neighborhood and talked to the neighbors it felt so good! And when we talked to Jose (who spoke very little English) you could tell he felt very good after he talked to Mike for at least 20 minutes about his off-street parking issue and he told us he was not discriminated against because he was Latino as did all the Latinos tell us the same. And how great it was to see the look of tranquility when Mike told them not to fear and to tell their friends and neighbors not to fear the Police because of their race or status.
And wonderful! yes wonderful! when all the neighbors said they Loved Longmont and that they all felt they belonged and got along with their neighbors no matter their color or status in this a highly populated Latino neighborhood yes! Thank you, Chief Butler, for helping big time to make Longmont the All-Inclusive belonging, caring community that it is!!! And BTW Longmont has the lowest crime rate in the State of Colorado not first only because the lowest rated city is an Upscale Colorado community.
YES, Chief Butler your belonging revolution right on!
And thank you so very much Elliot Moore Longmont Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director for accompanying us on our walk. You are so friendly and nice! and further more how good it was for you to engage with all especially the kids and personally invite them to come to the of July celebration in Thompson park
A hospitable neighborhood calls forth kindness from its residents. And when this happens, greatness is produced. The neighborhood Dan and I walked Sunday went through a complete change in the last ten years. The greatness of this neighborhood revealed itself in many ways through those we met. My definition of a great neighborhood has a lot to do with the content of its goodness.
Dan, Elliot and I walked an East side neighborhood on a warm Sunday morning. Elliot Moore is our new Longmont Symphony Orchestra Conductor. He comes from Detroit, Michigan. Welcome to our community, Elliot! Your obvious commitment to our community is inspiring!
A decade ago, this neighborhood was full of gang activity, open-air drug sales, residents cowering to the chaos, little hope and significant mistrust in police. The goodness was dormant but no doubt it existed, perhaps under the surface, in abundance.
We encountered several people. About 50% of those we met did not speak English (Thanks Dan for being a superb translator). The themes and comments we heard:
Our neighborhood is safe!
We know our neighbors and look out for each other!
We've lived in this neighborhood for many years!
The cultural diversity in our neighborhood is great!
We trust and have confidence in the police!
Kids play all over the neighborhood!
The Kindness in our neighborhood is everywhere!
Yes, I would like to help out more in our community!
Transformation indeed! Goodness prevails!
Elliot Moore, Music Director, Longmont Symphony Orchestra
I went on my first Belonging Revolution walk this morning. What is the Belonging Revolution, you ask? For four years, the City of Longmont’s Police Chief, Mike Butler, and his friend Dan Benavidez have been walking the streets of the City of Longmont, introducing themselves to everyone that they meet, expressing to each person that they are a valued member in the fabric of this community. I couldn’t help but wonder if the Belonging Revolution began as a response to the high level of distrust that exists in America between so many communities and their local police departments or simply as a way to connect with other people on a shared human level. Either way, Mike, and Dan are committed to making everyone that they meet feel valued, welcomed and that they belong here in the city of Longmont.
When we met the first few people on our walk, it occurred to me that it may be a bit scary to have the chief of police come up to you and say “Hi, I am the Chief of Police here in Longmont, do you have a few minutes to chat?” To my amazement, Chief Butler made everyone feel at ease within just a few moments. He engages people by asking if there are any issues that they have noticed with which he may be able to help. One man suggested that lights be put up around an outdoor neighborhood basketball court so that the local kids can play later in the cooler summer evening weather while being properly lit. Another man welcomed Chief Butler speaking with him and his neighbors to solve a minor issue regarding parking on the block. What all of our interactions had in common was that relationships were forged, trust was earned, and community was built — one person at a time.
There are two sides to belonging to a community; one is the feeling of belonging to community — “I belong here, this is my home.” The other side of belonging is a sense of ownership — “this is my community, I want to see it flourish!”. As a symphonic conductor, I want the musicians to feel that the orchestra is their orchestra (as opposed to it being the conductor's orchestra or the board of director's orchestra) and that it is their voice is that dictates which direction we move in. This approach gives ownership to the musicians and is a very different approach than the autocratic conductors of the past. Also, it is a powerful paradigm shift that fosters shared leadership among colleagues rather than the typical "top-down" approach.
As I observed each persons growing sense of ownership throughout the conversation, I wondered to myself: “What do we have to do as an orchestral organization to make everyone feel that the Longmont Symphony is their orchestra? How do we give patrons the feeling that a symphonic concert is more that a place to sit quietly and listen to pretty music, it is a space to come together and celebrate our shared humanity?
Part of an answer to this question came to me when we met a man, Richard, and his three sons. I asked one of the boys if he played an instrument – he shook his head "no." Richard said to us “It would probably be good if he played an instrument… it keeps kids off the streets.” Suddenly, I had the idea that if orchestras existed to help parents keep their children safe, could a community see the orchestra as more than entertainment? Maybe. I would certainly be thrilled to support an institution that was helping to shape at-risk children's bright futures!
This walk and the conversations that ensued led me to consider what I can do for Longmont as the steward of their fine orchestra:
1. Meet the Latino population halfway — learn their language.
2. Be an advocate for increased access to musical instruments and quality music instruction for children. Help these parents by giving their kids structure and meaningful interactions with other teachers and students.
3. Be a welcoming presence by providing access to the orchestra.
4. Don’t be afraid to express to total strangers in the concert hall that they are valued, welcomed and belong; Explain the story behind the music to our listeners.
As we returned to our cars at the end of our walk, it occurred to me that Chief Butler had not taken down my contact information to be recorded with the other people's that we had met that day. I kindly asked him to take my information down and let him know that I would be happy and honored to be of service should the need ever arise.
Music Director, Longmont Symphony Orchestra