/ Conversations Our Community Chooses To Have With Itself

Walk 8-5-2018

Dan Benavidez

It was very cloudy and overcast this last Sunday morning and I sent a message to Chief Butler “Mike it is cloudy and breezy and may drizzle so should we still do our neighborhood walk?”  Mike replied I think we will be okay meet you at the Snowmass place and Martin Road neighborhood. And indeed, the weather no problem and we had a nice neighborhood walk. We had walked in this neighborhood about two years ago.  We met two gentleman who are now retired and who served our country in the Military one in the Army and one in the Navy, and I am always so thankful to be able to meet and share with these veterans right in their neighborhood. And what a pleasure meeting and talking to the young people who run their own business and love living in Longmont. And again, all we met loved living in Longmont and I always feel good after our Sunday neighborhood walk.

And thank you, thank! you Marijike Unger, City of Longmont City Wide Communications manager you are one great peoples type person and communicator and all we met felt so comfortable with you. And I mean wow! Marijike fluent in 4 languages Spanish being one of them how cool!


Mike’s Perspective

Often, the uniqueness of a community or its identity is defined by its parks, its schools, landscaping, its leaders or the local economy. Our Belonging Revolution believes that new possibilities in our city and our town’s future identity will be brought about by the conversations our community chooses to have with itself. Conversations that make a difference start with powerful questions, include quality invitations, and in which people (not just leaders) speak to their own accountability, commitment, and action.

We walked a neighborhood in which there was a recent devastating event for a family. As we’ve mentioned prior, we often pick neighborhoods that have experienced harm or tragedy and to whatever level we can, try to bring equilibrium or healing through our conversations with those we meet in that neighborhood. Marijke Unger, our City’s relatively new Communications Director accompanied us.


We met Robin, a delightful young woman walking her two pooches. Robin is quite gregarious and talked of her volunteer work in our community. Robin quickly accepted our invitation to help out more in our community. Robin blessed us with her charm and her energy and has amazing gifts to offer the rest of us.

We met Jim. What a hoot! Jim initially described himself as not a community oriented person and “just wanted to be left alone” but then went on to describe a few circumstances in which he reached outside of himself and helped others. Jim told us of an incident in which he, in the moment, went the extra mile (my words) to help a person experiencing homelessness. We could see Jim soften a little when he related his story. Jim could potentially come off as “grumpy” but the more we talked, the more he opened up and allowed us to see his sense of humor, his love for our community, and his inner, compassionate spirit.

Then there was Veronica, Mike and Nick. Oh my! Engaging, fun, loving, all of the above. Mike does hardwood floors and Marijke and I both obtained his business card. Nick is a visiting relative and spoke of his newly found barbecue business in San Diego. Veronica was a spirited personality and she also accepted our invitation to be of help in our community. We had a robust conversation with them

NOTE: On three occasions, we heard about our Longmont public safety volunteers in action. Two people told us of family members involved with our victim advocate program and Jim let us know of citizen volunteers who were operating radar enforcement on the street in front of him. FYI - our invitations over time on our walks or over time our fruitful. People in our community have gifts to offer and want opportunities to offer them. We are all grateful.

Our Belonging Revolution believes the future is created one conversation, one person, one opportunity, one room at a time. This is where real transformation occurs! During our Sunday walks and vis a vis the conversations that occur, we hope our residents experience intimate and authentic relatedness with us and with each other - this is a gift to us as well.  Our conversations focus on their generosity, their kindness as well as their talents. What we hope for is a shift in thinking in which they BELIEVE they “own” our community - even though others still might be “in charge.” We structure our conversations so that diversity of thought and dissent are given space, commitments are made without barter, and the gifts of each person are acknowledged and recognized.

And so it was this last Sunday! Thank You Marijke for taking time on your Sunday morning to walk with us and to learn a little more about the people in our community. 

Marijke Unger |
City-wide Communications Manager

It was a pleasure joining you yesterday for the weekly neighborhood walk, thank you both so much for taking time out of your Sundays to connect directly with our community, and for including me in this inspiring endeavor.

What struck me about what you do, in addition to creating a human connection with city residents, is that you also give them the gift of connecting with their own sense of community and belonging in a more conscious way, and open the door for them to become more engaged. It was a lovely day for a walk, starting out overcast, but warm, with the sun breaking through the clouds as we covered some ground. I was grateful for the quiet streets in the shade of imposing, mature trees, and enjoyed taking in the beautiful gardens along our route.

It was a treat meeting Robin and her pups Aspen and Kaya, and hearing about her love of the area and enjoyment of the parks and neighborhood. But I was also saddened to learn that housing costs are so high she is considering moving out of the City, a problem many must be facing or have faced in recent years as property values soar.

John, a Navy veteran, spoke highly of life-saving services he received from the City’s emergency responders, when he suffered a heart attack, and shared that his wife has volunteered for many years as a victim advocate with the City –doing good and difficult work, giving back to the community they call home.

Another veteran, Jim, came out of his curmudgeonly shell to crack some jokes and the occasional smile that betrayed a caring heart and concern for people going through a hard time.

Our last encounter, with Veronica and Mike, and Mike’s cousin Nick, delayed their departure to the fair and rodeo –but only by a few minutes—and they entertained us with a good story of police responding to a neighbor’s midnight call that turned out to be about Veronica’s daughter’s screaming tantrum when Veronica took her cell phone away.

I was amazed at how warmly people responded to our invitation to chat, even if caught off guard or cautious at first. And gratified to hear only positive responses to encounters or interactions with City public safety staff. As an 18-year Longmont resident myself, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with my town in a new way, and with people walking the same streets I do that I would otherwise never have met. Thank you both for making me part of your belonging revolution!