/ Providing Access To The Orchestra

Walk 10-28-2018

Dan Benavidez

This Sunday walk very good. However, after each walk I feel and know that every neighborhood walk is good, and so meaningful, and ever so pleasant Mike Butler meeting and sharing with our neighbors. This mobile home park that we walked through appeared to be mainly lived-in by senior citizens. And how my heart to some extent felt for the senior lady as Mike talked and shared with her  because when we talked to this  very nice senior Lady she shared with us amongst other things that she was I believe she said 89-years-old, but she still climbed a ladder to clean her homes gutter six (6) times a year and how difficult it was to meet her expenses as her basic income was Social Security.

However, we talked to more seniors many also having to count their pennies, but they were happy with their state of life and loved living in Longmont. And how I enjoyed so much talking to the 2 teenage sisters one had graduated from Longmont High School this past year and the other still going to Longmont high and was a senior and would graduate this school year. And how happy they were with their beautiful smiles and looking forward to their future. YES, thank God that it’s going to be okay even with all this crazy madness going on in our country today!

And thank you very much Ashley Denault and Guillermo Estrada- Rivera from Foot Hills United way for accompanying Chief Butler and me on our walk this warm and very nice day!

 Mike’s Perspective

 We moseyed through two mobile home parks on Sunday. Guillermo and Ashley from Foothills United Way graciously joined us. We encountered several people who had significant life experiences. Their wisdom was grounded in the practical aspects of their lives and a variety of concerns were expressed. “When your only income is social security, you cannot do as much as you used to” and “I can’t say nice things about your police department, chief.” and “You watch your pennies, not your dollars,” and “The best things in life are eatin’ and sleepin” and “I don’t like what this town has become.”

There was zero political correctness in the comments we received on our Sunday walk. There was a Nebraska man who absolutely reveled in the University of Colorado’s football team’s meltdown the previous day. And there was plenty of dissent and doubt about how things are these days in Longmont and our country.

On our walks over the years, we continuously confirm that creating a space for dissent and doubt is the way diversity gets valued in our community or anywhere. Inviting dissent into the conversation is how we show respect for a wide range of beliefs. It honors a maxim that for every great idea, the opposite idea is also true.

Those we spoke with on Sunday believe there is no way to be awake and vital in our world without having serious doubts and reservations about the status quo. In some ways our faith is measured by the extent of our doubts. Perhaps without the capacity to express our doubts, our faith has little meaning or substance.

In a patriarchal setting, dissent is considered disloyalty. Or negativism. Or not being a team player. Or not being a good citizen. America, love it or leave it. You are with us or against us. All phrases that reflect an underlying fear of dissent.

What we know from our walks is that it is important to protect the space for the expression of people’s doubts. Expressing our doubts does not mean there is not intention to create something better or new. 

What Dan and I do with doubt is to get interested in the doubts that are being expressed. We ask questions; we offer those we meet the opportunity to say what they’ve been wanting to say and now can- to the public safety chief and to a former Mayor pro tem. And we want them to know that their dissent is welcomed and worthy. 

I believe an important role of leadership is to get interested in people’s doubts and dissent and to find out why something matters so much to them. Dan and I have found that dissent can often become the first step towards commitment, accountability and action when we get interested in it without having to fix, explain or answer it. People say yes to our invitation and agree to make a personal investment in our community often after expressing their doubts to us.

One of the keys to any partnership is the right of each person to say “no.” Our ‘yes’ doesn’t mean much if we don’t have the right to say no. If people say no, it does not create their dissent; it only expresses it. And when we want to heal or build a restorative community, we must offer a place for anyone to know that their dissent and doubt will not cost them their sense of belonging in a relationship, a meeting, an organization, our community or our country.

And people are more likely to feel and believe they belong if they do believe it is safe to express their dissent and doubt. That has been one of the keys to our Belonging Revolution.  And on last Sunday’s walk, there was plenty of room for people to voice their doubts.

Ashley Denault - Foot Hills United Way

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to join Chief Butler and Dan Benavidez, along with my colleague Guillermo Estrada-Rivera for a neighborhood walk. We connected because of our work on the Resilience for All/Resiliencia para Todos initiative, which is working to formalize a network of Cultural Brokers who build bridges between under served Boulder County residents and nonprofit and government entities.

Although the chilly weather meant only a few people were outside, we had the opportunity to connect with a number of residents. At each encounter, Mike and Dan introduced themselves and us, and explained why they were out in the community doing these walks. They asked residents how long they had lived in the community and in Longmont, if they liked where they lived, what they liked about it, whether they felt safe and connected. One of the women we spoke with was 89 and still biked around the neighborhood and cleaner her gutters by herself a few times a year – she was definitely an inspiration!

Aside from learning that gutter-cleaning may be the secret to longevity, I was struck by how open and willing to engage people were – and by how something as simple as starting a conversation can be a pathway to greater empathy and openness, and connection, particularly after a week of hate-based violence across the country. Thank you so much, Mike and Dan, for the invitation and for the tremendous work you’re doing!

Ashley Denault

Guillermo Estrada-Rivera Foot Hills United way | Cross-Cultural Network Designer 

Thanks, Chief Butler for the invitation too. I think this was a great opportunity to remind us why we do this work. Initiatives like this demonstrate the lasting value of community connection and reaffirms the importance of our efforts to help the community thrive and become more resilient. We feel honored to have been invited to witness Chief Butler and Dan Benavides embodying the Belonging Revolution.

 Guillermo Estrada-Rivera