/ An Infinite Number Of Small Steps

Walk 6-3-2018

Dan Benavidez

What a very nice pleasant walk this Sunday walk was in my barrio (neighborhood) I enjoyed so much listening to the neighbors and watching the surprised look on their faces when I introduced them to Chief Butler and Council Member Marcia Martin and Dana Walters from Voices for Children CASA. And how good it was and thank you Dana for helping me with the Spanish interpretation when needed. And with all the racial and other turmoil going on in our Country that it is not the *“End of the world as we know it” as I just know that our neighborhood walks are indeed a “Belonging Revolution” and for sure are the “start of a world as we know it where our neighbors know that they for sure “BELONG”.

And how I just know our future is looking good when we met and talked to the young Latino who just graduated from Silver Creek High School, and is going to Front Range Community College and the great smile on his face when I told him he would was going to be our next President of the U.S.

And how totally right on it was when last Saturday when I was accompanying Chief Butler on a walk at Golden Ponds we noticed a Police car parked on the road next to pond two at Golden Ponds and police officer Nathan Macciato in full Uniform teaching and helping Rigo a young Latino man how to fly fish It just does not get any better than that!

And thank you ever so much Longmont City Council Member Marcia Martin and Dana Walters from Casa Voices for Children for accompanying us on our neighborhood walk and talking and sharing with our neighbors you da best!

*Songwriters: John Michael Stipe / Michael E. Mills / Peter Lawrence Buck / William Thomas Berry

Mike’s Perspective

We walked a neighborhood in south central Longmont on Sunday. It was a neighborhood full of duplex’s and apartment complexes. It was a warm day and the neighborhood was teeming with people! We met some remarkable people. If the readers have not noticed and just for clarification, everyone we meet is remarkable! (HINT FOR ALL OF US). City Council Person Marcia Martin and Dana Walters from CASA joined us.

And following the truth that everyone we meet is remarkable, we believe our Belonging Revolution values, invests in, and recognizes the gifts of our community’s residents. In certain ways we offer choice, power and opportunities to those we meet. We create a space for something new to occur as people believe and realize that their voice counts, their thoughts matter and that their humanness is valued. And these attributes were in their fullest glory during this Sunday walk!

Perhaps the most remarkable story was about a man named Angel. Many years ago, our police services arrested Angel for illicit narcotics distribution multiple times. He was a significant mover of narcotics in our community and struggling with addiction. Over the years, Angel has turned his life around and we met him Sunday as they were preparing for his son’s (Alex) high school graduation. Angel was engaging, happy, complimentary of police and what gave me the most exhilaration - he enthusiastically said yes to our invitation to become more involved with our community as we work with people struggling with addiction, their mental health and homelessness.

We had the opportunity to speak with the congregation of a neighborhood church and listened to stories from various members. What a delight that was! We met Tommie, Linda and others who were quite forthcoming about their lives and concerns in their respective neighborhoods.

And we met Oscar and his family during a yard sale - both Dana and Marcia made purchases. Oscar, while a young man, was charismatic, articulate, wise to the ways of the world and full of great energy! Oscar said yes to our invitation to become more active in our community.

What makes community building so complex is that it occurs in an infinite number of small steps, sometimes in quiet moments that we notice out of the corner of our eye, it calls for us to treat as important many things that we thought were incidental? An afterthought becomes the point; a comment made in passing defines who we are more than all that came before. The key to transforming community, then, is to see the power in the small but important elements of being with others. The shift we seek needs to be embodied in each invitation we make, each relationship we encounter, and each conversation we have with others.

The social fabric of community is formed from an expanding sense of belonging. It is shaped by the idea and ideal that only when we are connected and care for the well-being of the whole that a civil and caring community is created. It is like that belief that no one can enter Nirvana until all others have gone before us.

Council Member Marcia Martin (Longmont, Ward 2)

Chief of Public Safety Mike Butler and his friend Dan Benavidez have walked the neighborhoods of Longmont together on pleasant Sunday mornings for nearly five years. Last Sunday I joined them for the first time, but not for the last. Also walking with us was Dana Walters, a program director for CASA of Boulder County. CASAs are Court-Appointed Special Advocates for children who may be suffering abuse. Dana is the program director of this volunteer organization. We were both walking to learn from the people of the neighborhood, and to learn why Mike and Dan take their walks. The message of these walks is important to me, and I hope the people of Longmont who received it think it is important, too.

We all met at the corner of Grand Avenue and Bowen Street. I had canvassed that neighborhood last September, walking alone, running for the City Council seat in which I now serve. Bowen was a hard street to canvass because most of the dwellings are four-family apartment buildings, with steps up to the top level and down to the garden-level lower units. But today it was sunny and pleasant, and families were outdoors.

There was a yard sale on the corner where we met. Two sisters sat in the yard, which was spread with a pretty impressive variety of stuff for sale. I spotted a table-top ironing board for $1. I needed it – but I only had $20 bills in my wallet, which would have seriously depleted the sisters’ supply of change. Kindly Mr. Benavidez had a dollar, so he paid the girls. Dan, I owe you one!

While we stood and chatted a mother, father, brother, and two young friends all appeared.  Chief Butler introduced us all and began to explain why we were visiting. This family was more comfortable in Spanish than English, so Dan translated. I can halfway follow a conversation in Spanish but can’t string together a sentence to save my life. So mostly l listened. Chief Butler likes to ask three questions. He asks how people feel about living in Longmont, and if they feel safe, and if they feel they belong. But then he assures these Spanish-speaking people that he is not concerned with anyone’s immigration status, and that his police and firefighters treat everyone the same. In Longmont, nobody needs to be afraid of calling for help when they need it. The City safety forces don’t work with ICE.

We walked a few blocks south, conducting more conversations, half-English and half-Spanish. The families we met were usually extended, with three or four generations present. One family, living in both sides of a duplex, was putting together a graduation party for a middle son, who is looking forward to starting at Front Range in the fall. His older brother’s tiny daughter, beautiful in a pink dress and waist-length black hair, runs back and forth while we talk. Grandpa is open about his immigration status. I guess he’s confident that he belongs in Longmont. I certainly am. I tell the graduate that I went to Front Range’s commencement ceremony last month, and how it was the most inspiring such event I ever saw. Chief Butler tries to interest him in police work.

An uncle drives up with a party tent for the back yard. The young men move off to help him. It’s time for us to cross the street and meet the congregation of Twin Peaks Church of Christ. Then the walk will be over, and I’ll go back to pick up my little ironing board and rush off to the rest of the day – two more gatherings, old friends to greet, more new friends to meet. There’s a lot going on in Longmont.

Council Member Marcia Martin (Longmont, Ward 2)

Dana Walters - Voices For Children CASA

I work with Voices for Children CASA, a program that trains volunteers to advocate for kids who have been abused or neglected.  There are about 240 CASA volunteers in Boulder County, over half of whom live in Longmont, so I was honored to have the opportunity to walk with Dan Benavidez and Chief Butler and meet some Longmont residents.  We were blessed with a beautiful sunny morning, and the people we met were both friendly and chatty—they talked about family, schools, jobs, and safety. 

At CASA, we think about community safety all the time.  Communities as a whole can never be 100% safe—too much about the world is beyond our control (like the weather).  When kids feel safe they have better quality of life, and the same is pretty much true for people of all ages.  For me to feel safe, I want to know that I am supported, and I want to know who to ask for help when I need it.  It was neat to see how people connected to a group of visitors that included a former city council member, a current city council member, and the Chief of Police.  These are good people to ask for help.

Dan Benavidez and Chief Butler have been doing neighborhood walks in Longmont for nearly five years, and you can tell that they are pros at talking to strangers.  In fact, the people we met this morning didn’t feel like strangers—one resident mentioned that his mom spoke with Chief Butler on a recent walk, and another group invited us inside their church.  All three groups of people included longtime Longmont residents- people who said they’d lived here for decades and that they love the city.  We met several young people who had terrific charisma, some proud parents, a very talented gardener, and an entire congregation that has been worshipping together and supporting each other for years.

I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to join a Sunday morning walk- its civic engagement on a very personal level, and it's a great way to get to know a neighborhood better.

 

 

 

/ The World Feels Like Its Changing

Walk 5-20-2018

 

Dan Benavidez

Early last Sunday morning the 20th it was cloudy, lightly raining and overcast and a bit chilly when Chief Butler called me and told me the rain should stop by 10:30 so we will be doing our neighborhood walk. And I said to me self, self we’ll see. But sure enough the rain stopped, and it had cleared up quite a bit by the time we started our walk so good on you Chief Butler good on you as you must know whether people in high places and you are always ready to go into the neighborhoods to meet and greet the people even on chilly cloudy days. And after we started our walk me was a happy camper because like on our past neighborhood walks we did meet and talk to some very interesting people. Joanne who remembered Chief Butler from way back, Sam walking his beautiful dog and Mike showing his Frisbee skill with Tom, Linda and Emily,

And Randi from Vail. From all of them what makes me feel so very good is that they ALL Love Longmont!!

And Oh my gosh just about six (6) weeks until Chief Mike Butler starts his 5th year walking down in the neighborhoods of Longmont meeting and greeting our neighbors assuring them they “BELONG “Starting his fifth year of his “Belonging Revolution”

And thank you, Longmont Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Polly Christensen for walking with us again and thank you Colorado State Representative, Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Mike Foote for walking with us!


Mike’s Perspective

We walked what we referred to as the Loomiller Neighborhood. It was a relatively cloudy and cool day but we took a chance to walk. State representative Mike Foote and city council person Polly Christensen walked with us.

On each of our walks, we encounter many people who are profoundly honest with us. They express their pain, their limits, their hope, their hopelessness, and their desire for inner peace. Many of those we encounter speak of the love they have within them that is just waiting and wanting to be unleashed.

Many speak of the growth of our community and the difficulty they have in reconciling the speed of that change with the rhythms of their personal lives. It seems dramatic beginnings and endings are more prevalent than they once were. Circumstances people thought were stable and secure seem less so, and things that were distant possibilities have become worrisomely close. Often, we encounter people who, at times, feel displaced in our community and world that is supposedly our home yet, for some reason, completely at odds with the love in our hearts.

That is why we believe our Belonging Revolution is critical to our community and perhaps to our society. Many people live with a deep, subconscious longing to feel connected, to feel more congruent with the happenings in our world, to move away from our fear-based news media and thought systems, to cross over into something new and, more than ever, to feel and believe they BELONG to our community and indeed our world.

How can we best participate in a transition from feeling disconnected to one of personal belonging - it seems so overwhelming, huge and idealistic? Much is being done by the secular world to try to connect us. Books, seminars, support groups, social media all proclaim a better way to love, to lead and to live. And as we walk neighborhoods and meet people where they live, we still get a prevailing message and feeling that the secular mechanism is not finding the sweet spot, the cornerstone of our longing for purpose and meaning and clarity.

People on our walks let us know that we live in a world that feels as if it is changing at break-neck speed for them. We believe our Belonging Revolution is a way to learn how to slow down and a way to find depth in our lives. We develop personal connections with people and give them a safe place to express their thoughts and concerns. Often, we see relief on people’s faces when we are with them. They can begin to see the possibility of more relatedness with our community. The world people want for themselves and their children will not emerge from digital speed, but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then and only then will we create a world that reflects our hearts and our deepest longings. So much more...


Longmont Council Member Polly Christensen

Our Sunday walk was a very pleasant day, but the overcast skies encouraged most people to stay inside this area of town, just north of Loomiller Park. We did talk with five groups of people who were out and about. Jerri was weeding her lovely tulip bed on her day off from work and taking some time away from caring for her mother. A fellow named Sam was out walking his 12 -year-old yellow lab. He was very affable and felt Longmont was very safe. He is concerned about how expensive it is becoming to live in Longmont. Tom, Linda, and Emily were out in the park playing Frisbee. All had lived here for many years and Tom was born here. Tom’s dad was even mayor many years ago. They were all fond of Longmont and intend to stay. Also in the park was Randi from Vail valley, who has been staying here for about four months and will soon be returning to Vail. He has enjoyed his time here. Randi was feeding a very large collection of ducks and geese, who will certainly miss him. Lastly we met Joanne, an interesting woman who has lived in Longmont for over 40 years. She is very friendly and feels safe here but worries about the tides of drugs that have periodically sweep through our town and society. From cocaine to meth. Joanne has overcome many challenges and has great empathy for those still struggling. Her brother made a brief appearance, but was only willing to talk with people he could be assured agreed with him politically. How different from his sister, who simply has a kind heart for anyone of goodwill. I never fail to take heart in the friendliness and diverse interests of Longmonters.

Mike Foote, House District 12 Representative, House District 12 Representative, PO Box 469., Lafayette, Colorado 80026

I appreciated walking around the neighborhood with you, Chief Butler, and Polly Christensen yesterday.  I was pleasantly surprised about how long people wanted to talk.  Usually at the door strangers get a minute or two, but in our circumstance some people didn't want to stop talking!  This kind of outreach is effective and I'm sure appreciated by the community.

 

 

 

 

/ Missing

Walk 5-6-2018


Dan Benavidez

I recalled about a year or so ago another walk in a Longmont neighborhood where a major tragedy occurred, and we walked there in this neighborhood as Mike wanted to be there to sooth the neighbors and for them to be assured that he cared about them.  So when Mike informed me where we would be walking last Sunday the 6th of May and as soon as I arrived at 1209 Tulip I knew that once again this great caring Chief of Public Safety Mike Butler had selected this neighborhood because this is the neighborhood where Rita Gutierrez lives or God forbid lived because unfortunately she may no longer be alive and he was there to sooth the neighbors and he assured them (as he has done in the past) that he cares for them!  Thank you, Mike, for doing this, as for sure you really care about us!

And what I continue to observe and what comes to mind is the people we met and talked to last Sunday and those we have met through the years on our Sunday neighborhood walks was how great it is that here is a very visible Chief of Public Safety, who cares about the people so much that he will spend his Sunday mornings walking in our Diverse Longmont neighborhoods! Making us all feel that we belong! Our neighbors talk with him, share with him tell him about their lives their hurts their feelings and with few and I mean few exceptions all love living Longmont. And here was this Sunday morning in this neighborhood where many shared with him about their neighbor Rita Gutierrez that oh my how caring and good that was that Mike was there to listen and share with them that he cares! Thank you, Mike, for once again walking in a neighborhood to be with the neighbors and to assure them that you were there to listen and help them cope with the tragedy that is occurring in regard to their neighbor Rita Gutierrez.

And then to walk in the surrounding neighborhood and listen and share with the neighbors!

And gosh! We are in just a few months will be starting Chief Mike Butlers 5th year of walking on Sundays in Longmont neighborhoods wow is that cool or what!!!


Mike’s Perspective

Several weeks ago, Rita Gutierrez was reported as missing. Rita has three children and many friends. Rita has yet to be found and the prevailing story in our community is that she is not alive. Needless to say, this event has been very disturbing to our community and heart wrenching for her family, friends and neighbors. As public safety chief, I can assure all that we gave everything we had and are not giving up the possibility of finding Rita and solving this case. We have leads.

With that said, I suggested to Dan that we walk the neighborhood where Rita and her children lived. Perhaps we could provide some comfort and let people know they are very much part of our community’s social fabric. It is also a neighborhood that receives many requests for public safety services. 1209 Tulip is the address of the apartment complex Dan, Tom (my neighbor) and I walked on Sunday. We also walked a couple of streets surrounding 1209 Tulip.

We met many people on our walk. Several of those we met mentioned Rita and concern about what happened. We met two men who self-admitted they had spent time in prison and wanted to take a different path. One of those men was more reticent than the other to talk with us. Neither wanted their photo taken with us. The one man who wanted to talk with us initially rebuffed us and went inside his home. About 30 minutes later, he emerged and apologized for his rudeness and we subsequently entered into a lively conversation about multiple subjects.

We met several others who wanted to speak with us and said yes to our invitation to help out more with our community. When I make the invitation, I let people know that while we have a great community, we also have social and health issues no different than any other community. I mentioned people struggling with their mental health, addiction and homelessness. And as a side note, the Boulder County United Way organization has agreed to do all the follow up contacts to those people who do say yes to our invitation.

There was one young lady who has been renting a home in Longmont for 3 years and is in her senior year at the University of Colorado. Her enthusiasm to be more helpful in our community was amazing!

As a reminder, our walks are about encouraging people to believe and feel they belong to our community. Dan and I purposely select neighborhoods that may, from the outside looking in, seem marginalized or disenfranchised. We often select neighborhoods that may lack in material abundancy but as we have discovered, do not lack in their desire to create a new future in their neighborhood and our community! And this last Sunday’s walk was no exception.

There is a neighborhood ideal we all believe in, but it is usually a whisper. When people are given an opportunity to speak up for this ideal, the voices we encounter on our walks speak of their gifts, their hospitality, their relationships and living by the habits of their hearts.

Our walks create a safe place so people can give voice to their perspectives and their desire and power to create a full and complete life in their neighborhood. They know that when they join together with their family and neighbors, they can become the architects of the future they want to live within. Such a future is made possible through the untapped gifts, expertise and resources of each neighborhood we walk within.

We believe our Belonging Revolution can help repair the cut in the social fabric of any one neighborhood and bring life to the abundance that each neighborhood already possesses. 


Tom Weiser

Walking with Mike Butler and Dan Benavidez

One of the first things I noticed was my own reaction to the process.  At first I felt quite embarrassed about walking up to people that I did not know into a conversation that they didn’t elicit.  The practice cracked a wall of reserve that would normally have kept me at arm’s length from many of these neighbors of mine.  It revealed how I often don’t connect through some sense of reserve or misplaced politeness.  I was surprised at the degree to which people were willing to talk.

I noticed that some people were quite willing, almost eager, to talk.  I noticed that others did not seem to wish to talk at first, but relaxed and engaged more as the conversation went on.  It seemed to me that women were by and large more willing to talk then men.  In our walk, several men declined to talk, and several who agreed to talk declined to be photographed.  I noticed that both the men who declined to be photographed identified themselves as former inmates of prison. Another man was only willing to be photographed once he knew what the photo would be used for.

It seemed to me that almost everyone was glad that Mike was walking the neighborhood.  For some, especially the ones that had been reluctant to talk at first, it became a way to vent a little bit.  I inferred that they felt good that they were being heard by someone in power – someone who might be able to address their concerns effectively.  I also inferred that it was somewhat of a relief to have someone in power listen to them without their having to go through the process of attending a public hearing.

I inferred a disparity in income between the homeowners and the renters and noticed some differences in the concerns that the two groups voiced.

I was surprised at how many people agreed to be available to be contacted.  Again, I noticed that men seemed to be a little less interested in signing up. The women who declined generally seemed to do so because they were already over committed in volunteerism.  When Mike asked if he could call people for help, it wasn’t clear what kind of help he might be asking for, and I wondered if that vagueness made people uneasy.  I know it would make me uneasy to be on such an unspecified call and email list. Personally, I would prefer to be steered to a website where I might opt in to various activities.  Of course, then I would have to confess that, like the other men who did not opt in, I might never get around to volunteering.

Overall, I was glad that I went on the walk, and was glad to be exposed to a group of neighbors that I might otherwise never meet.  I think that these neighborhood walks are a very good thing, and I applaud Mike and Dan for doing them.

/ Safety and Success Dependent On The Safety And Success Of Others

Walk 4-29-2018


Dan Benavidez

YES!! For sure thank you Chief Mike Butler for our neighborhood walks which has started a “Belonging Revolution” – a "Revolución perteneciente".

Yesterday I woke up looked out my window then went outside and oh my at last how nice and warm it was a great day for our neighborhood walk. And it was so gratifying for me as we walked in the “Hood” and I introduced the Longmont Chief of Police and the District attorney to the people we met and to see the smiles and feeling of belonging on their faces when they were assured that they belonged in Longmont. Here the Longmont Chief of Police and District Attorney right down there with them in their Hood” wow this is so cool I mean when prominent powerful people like the chief of Police and District attorney right down there in the neighborhood with the people.

And how good I felt to see the smile on the young lady’s face who had an incident with another young lady that resulted in the police being called and here she was sharing with the chief and you could tell how she felt oh so good doing that.

And how good I felt when the young man asked me can I give him my card, so he can give it to his daughter who has email, so I can send her the photo I took of them.

YES! Another great day down in the hood with the people and unless you have been there down in the hood with the people you cannot feel and experience the good feeling of the people and see how they after meeting with us do indeed feel that they belong!

Thank you, District Attorney Michael Dougherty, for walking with us and talking and sharing with those we met in this neighborhood THANK YOU!!

Mikes perspective

A beautiful day for a walk. Boulder County District Attorney, Michael Dougherty, walked with Dan and me. We revisited Countryside Mobile Home Park. It takes two Sundays of walking to cover this neighborhood.

Many people were out and greeted us. In contrast to isolation, what we observe on all of our walks is that the feeling of belonging, relationships and community which produces new energy rather than holding us in place. And there was an abundance of new and connecting energy on our walk this Sunday morning. There was also plenty of desire to leverage their belonging and offerings to help our community. A number of people gladly accepted our invitation to envision new possibilities and to create a desired future and a community that works for everyone.

Social capital is about acting on and valuing our interdependence and sense of belonging. It is the extent to which we extend hospitality and affection to one another. If we want to enhance the common measures of community health - economy, health, safety, the environment - we need to create a community where each citizen has the experience of being connected to those around them and knows that their safety and success are dependent on the safety and success of all others! As Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Dan Benavidez is a remarkable man. Many of those we met spoke only Spanish. Dan was able to put them at ease very quickly and his translation was smooth and reflective of what all were saying. He talks with passion and his heart is so giving. When we meet people, who seem hesitant and cautious, Dan very respectfully and warmly draws them in letting them know that all is ok. For those who have not walked with us, you almost have to be there to see what I am talking about. He is a true Belonging Revolutionary!


Michael Dougherty, 20th Judicial Court, District Attorney

Walking through Countryside Village - April 29, 2018

Over my first two months as Boulder District Attorney, I have made it a priority to get out into the community.  Throughout my career, I have seen firsthand the value of community engagement and collaboration with the aim of fostering confidence and improvement of our criminal justice system. 

The work of the District Attorney goes beyond a focus on simply prosecuting cases.  As District Attorney, my office maintains a strong connection with our community because, by hearing ideas and concerns from all sides, we can work together on meaningful solutions to the many complex issues in criminal justice.  We will, also, work hard to protect immigrants.  Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to crimes like fraud, wage theft, and bias crimes.  As District Attorney, I am committed to providing the best possible service to immigrant communities. 

With that in mind, I was very excited to join Chief Mike Butler and Dan Benavidez on their weekly Sunday walk.  They chose Countryside Village in Longmont. It was a beautiful day.  Mike and Dan walk through neighborhoods every Sunday, as part of their incredibly strong commitment to the community.  I was honored to walk with them. 

We headed down past the first row of trailer homes.  I learned that Mike and Dan do not knock on doors.  That makes sense to me, but I was unaware of it at first.  So, we walked until we came across a young man returning home from picking up breakfast.  He tensed when he saw us approaching him.  With Dan’s disarming personality and Mike’s seasoned touch, the conversation quickly turned positive.  With this gentleman, and each of the many that followed, Mike asked questions about their experience in Longmont, whether they feel safe in that neighborhood, and whether police/fire had treated them fairly in any interaction.  The answers were overwhelmingly positive, which reflects Longmont and the community members, as well as the leaders. 

We met many people; the conversations were longer than I would have expected and better than I could have hoped.  I think it was clear to everyone, including me, how deeply Dan and Mike care about the community.  As a result, people engaged and opened up about their experiences.  As a prosecutor, I have the privilege of working with people from all walks of life — but it is different to be out in a neighborhood, walking around on a Sunday.  I applaud Dan and Mike for their strong commitment to our community in Longmont and I am excited to walk with them again.   

 

 

 

/ Connectors Believe In People

Dan's Perspective

Of all the walks Mike and I have made since July of 2014 none started so delightfully as this walk. Oh, my how pleasing it was to be invited by Colleen Murphy to her home before our walk she made tasty umm splendid Scones and excellent coffee for us before we began our walk in her neighborhood! And what an enlightening discussion of the issues from homelessness to the needs of our Police and Firefighter and much more facing our Community that ensued during our Scones and coffee feast by Colleen, Longmont Council Member Joan Peck, and Barbara. As I listened to the discussion memories flooded back to me of the many homeless persons Mike and I have met during our walks and the homeless people I see in my neighborhood.  And how nice it was to share with Lee Phillips who joined us at Colleen’s home and accompanied us on our walk.

And the talks and sharing we experienced on our walk with the neighbors in the Parker Dr. neighborhood and how I felt that how great it was the neighbor who is U.S. Air Force Veteran and who served our country and who helped evacuate many by helicopter from Vietnam at the end of the war there and the other neighbors who we met and shared with who all love Longmont and all felt they belonged in awesome Longmont City!

 And oh My!  When I got home after our walk my day was topped off by an extended family member who looks as if she might be homeless came by and told me Pa Pa Dan I got me a nice condo I am going to be alright! I shouted out to her Yippee! And the two Latino gentlemen that I talked to out on the curb one who speaks no English and I see walking to the locals stores daily the other gentleman my friend for a longtime whose English is okay and we joked and laughed about when I win the Lottery which one of them is going to get the Red Oldsmobile car parked in my drive way! I felt that for sure that we belong!

I know I have said this before but Ah I feel so much better now and continue to feel better after each of our “Belonging Revolution” neighborhood walks because I have since the election of 2014 on somewhat regular basis been fighting off the morose and I don’t give a damn I give up feeling.

Nonetheless I am okay now because I just know from the bottom of my heart that chief Mike Butlers “Belonging Revolution” neighborhood walks are right on! and is where I belong on Sunday mornings walking along with Chief Butler and the other great ones who join us on our neighborhood walks. And coming home after our walks and knowing that we are there for each other!

And thank you Longmont City Council Member Joan Peck for walking with us again and thank you  Colleen, Barbara and Lee for accompanying us on our walk you all made our walk an ever so fruitful and enjoyable walk!

 

Mike's Perspective

This walk had a different flavor to it. Colleen invited Dan and me to enjoy scones and coffee prior to our walk. Barb, Colleen's good friend joined us. Joan Peck, City Council Person, also joined us and walked with us. Lee, the neighborhood's HOA President participated as well. Colleen is a wonderful host, the scones were mightily delicious, and the coffee widened our eyes! Thank you, Colleen!

While enjoying Colleen's hospitality, Colleen and Barb told us a little bit about their neighborhood. Concerns regarding unwanted occupied rv's, new apartments being built adjacent to their neighborhood, and a couple of disorder-related issues surfaced in our conversation. Colleen also told us that Police Officer Chris was aware of all the issues and working with the neighborhood to assist. Colleen and Barb both passionately asked what they, as citizens, could do outside of calling the police or other service providers. After hearing their concerns, I invited Colleen and Barb to recruit twenty neighbors to meet with me and/or other representatives of the public safety to provide them some guidance about how to identify and bring the gifts of their neighborhood to life and address their issues. Go Colleen and Barb!!!

We spent close to two hours in their neighborhood. We met a number of people who both leased and owned their residence. Everyone felt good about their neighborhood, they felt safe and all volunteered to help out in their neighborhood and our community.

People like Colleen, Barb and Lee are connectors. Community connectors cannot be hired; there is no degree in community connection; it is not taught at any academy nor can community connecting be adopted by a system. Connectors are gift-centered people who see the half full in everyone. It is a natural skill and abundant in every neighborhood. Community connecting is a matter of the intention - an intention to enhance the spirit of connection. Connectors believe in the people in their neighborhood and they know their neighborhood is rich in resources and spirit. Again, Colleen, Barb and Lee know the power of joining people and there are hospitable. We are all grateful!

 

Colleen Murphy

I just want to thank you soooo much for taking the time on Sunday morning to be with my neighbors and I. Thank you so much for helping me meet some of my neighbors, I may never have met. After our walk about in the neighborhood and talking with you all, I realized staying focused on what’s wrong prevented me from seeing what's right about Longmont. I have been in Longmont since 1979 and it has changed so much over the years and I would say, 95% for the better. Now that I have been asked to be part of the solution, I feel liberated. I have asked our local King Soopers manager to join our neighborhood task force and he is all in! We will gather as many as we can to have a conversation with the City of Longmont's Fire and Safety and to see what we can do to make Longmont better and learn how to deal with what comes from a growing, fabulous city. Again, thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

/ A Thousand To One

Dan's Perspective

What another ever so enjoyable and great Longmont neighborhood walk last Sunday!

YES, more than ever I deeply believe that Chief Mike Butler was and is ever so right on with his “Belonging Revolution”. And how wonderful it was when the 2 gentlemen shared with us how grateful they were for Mike coming down in their front yard to share with them, one of them having lived in Longmont all his life and his parents were Longmont pioneers. And How good it was meeting with the man presently serving in the U.S Air force and who has been in the Air Force for 13 years and who travels in his electric car daily to the Air Force base in Denver and his total regard for the environment and sustainability, and who will soon be leaving the Air Force and has accepted Mike’s invitation to volunteer for community service (as did almost all the others we meet and shared with) he even shared he had dreams of becoming a Police Officer.

And how nice it was to meet and share with the Latino family and Mike assuring them not to worry about our Police that they belong! They smiled from ear to ear.

And it was so delightful that Mike, Sarah and I were so accepted and appreciated by those we met and shared with in the East 4th Avenue neighborhood we walked in and for sure and I mean for sure those from our minority community we met all feel they have not been and are not discriminated against in our great City or for that matter Boulder City or the County because of their race, and they Love Longmont and feel they belong! It’s hard to get any better than that!

And thank you Sarah Levison for walking with us. 

Thank you, Dan Benavidez

 

Mike’s Perspective:

In light of what happened in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, I wanted to send a piece I wrote a few months ago.

As we are bombarded by information that dramatizes the human condition, markets fear, assigns blame and exploits the wounds of our country, we need to keep in mind that our world is truly one that is full of light with some dark spots, not one that is dark with a few light spots. We need to sharpen our focus on what is good in our midst. Many will try to convince us that our country is a problem to be solved and not a country full of possibilities. Authors, talking heads and syndicated columnists will discuss all of our ills as if they are the norm and not a mere fraction of our existence. Again, I offer that for every bad thing that happens, there are a thousand good things that happen as well. Dan and I see this every single Sunday. Love to all.

Mike Butler: A thousand to one ... belonging revolution!

Lamenting our woes can be contagious. Misery certainly loves company. The media is happy to tell us all the reasons why we should be afraid. The drama of the human condition sells. There are those who easily exploit our fears of terrorism, immigrants, of the urban core, of African-Americans and Latinos, of other ethnicities, of those who are poor and uneducated, of other countries. In the telling, there is a willingness to sacrifice the wholeness and dignity of a person or a group for the sake of capturing the drama or emotion in the moment. There is an industry that profits off of assigning blame and marketing fear and fault.

Because of my assignment and perhaps more than anyone else in our community, I know what does not go well. I see the crime, the medical emergencies, the disorder, the traffic accidents, the domestic violence, the harm done to children and people struggling with addiction, homelessness and their mental health. Becoming cynical and stuck in the quagmire of the imperfections and humanness of people would be easy.

In our Belonging Revolution walks, Dan Benavidez and I have spoken to over 2,000 people and visited over 100 neighborhoods and four different senior living facilities. The vast majority of neighborhoods are mobile home parks and apartment complexes. The stories people shared confirmed with certainty that the gifts, possibilities, and generosity of our community are beyond immense. Almost to the person, people speak of the abundancy in their lives. They love their neighborhood and our community. And in every single neighborhood, Dan and I have been welcomed with care and kindness.

Stories of people helping others; stories of cooperation, responsibility; stories of people's gifts and hospitality; stories of connectedness and belonging; stories of welcoming strangers; stories of healing; stories of hope for their children; stories of kindness, forgiveness, generosity; stories of families helping other families — these are the stories we hear every Sunday morning in our community. On every single walk, we find connectors, gift-centered people who see the half-full in everyone, who believe in the people in our community and find joy in gathering people together.

We could go on and on about the innumerable (in the thousands) acts of kindness, generosity and selflessness we have personally documented. Here is the point. We recognize our community has deficiencies and problems. But the overpowering spotlight on what does not work or who is to blame, or the fear or the fault shines so brightly that what is good only lives in its shadows. For every act of unkindness or for what does not go well, there are at least one thousand acts of kindness and selflessness! That is a fact! Don't believe us — then we would invite you to start walking neighborhoods in our community. Meet people you've never met before.

Take the chance of leaving the comfort and familiarity of your home and your neighborhood and visit other neighborhoods. You will find that for every neighborhood, there is a welcome sign at its edge. You will see, as William Butler Yeats proclaimed, "There are no strangers here, just friends you haven't yet met."

The community we have discovered in our Belonging Revolution walks has at its center two sources of power. The first is that every person has gifts to offer. The second is that people are hungry to share their gifts with the rest of us.

We often hear the safety of any community is a function of crime stats. Look at Chicago. Chicagoans and the rest of the world portray and define their community by what does not go well (homicides and shootings). There are those willing to tell us stories of mayhem, fear and violence. These are stories filled with limitations and sorely lacking in possibilities. Possibility thinking is marginalized, relegated to human interest and side stories in the media. I know there are people who want to change the story that is told in Chicago.

The one thousand to one ratio also applies to their community. Do we want to redefine and re-portray Chicago? Do we want to minimize the violence and killings? What if we defined the safety of a community as a function of what goes well? What if the stories of Chicago were ones of possibilities, generosity and gifts of their citizens? Why can't the focus be on the thousand instead of the one?

As long as the story is about the one, our stories are really fictional in nature. The decisions to tell the stories about the one over and over again as if they were defining truths limits the possibilities of creating an alternative future. Healing is really the re-remembering of the past and the present in a more forgiving way. The willingness to own up to the fictional nature of our own stories is where the healing begins. And where new possibilities reside. If we want to create a future that is different than the past or present, we will need to learn to tell stories that reflect reality. Let our mantra be "a thousand to one."

Mike Butler is Longmont's Public Safety chief.


 

Sarah Levison perspective:

Belonging Revolution walk Oct. 1, 2017

Dan, Chief Butler and I met at 4th and Alpine.  It was a cool and crisp morning fall was in the air. 

We first met Bryce who mentioned how he can rely on his neighbors who helped spot the big branches of a tree when he was cutting so they wouldn’t damage his house or a car parked on the street.  He likes the amenities that he has in Longmont: a quiet, safe neighborhood. He raved about the NextLight high speed internet and the Tinkermill makerspace he has joined. Bryce and Mike found they shared a love of astronomy and both have telescopes. On these walks, you learn new things about Dan and Mike.

Up the street, we met Oscar and Alex.  Chief Butler asked them if they could guess how many officers we had patrolling the streets.  They had a hard time guessing. The number is 8. Eight officers patrolling a couple of hundred miles of streets and protecting over 90,000 residents and commercial properties!  Not enough they thought.  Dan and I explained how we could add more officers and more safety services to the city if they vote for adding a small amount to the current Public Safety Tax.  We said that for 25 cents on a purchase of $100 will give the city the money to hire enough officers, dispatchers, fire personnel and equipment to better protect our residents.  They said they were going to definitely vote for the tax increase and share the information with their friends.

It is so rewarding to have this chance to talk to people in the neighborhoods.  We met others who all felt they feel welcome in our city.  Many people we spoke to had family visiting them from other cities.  Their family members like coming to Longmont. They like it better than where they live.

In every encounter, we got positive responses from those we spoke to.  A couple of issues that came up were the speed on 3rd avenue and the deteriorating condition of 4th avenue. Chief Butler will follow up with the traffic division and will contact the street department We collected the names of those residents so Mike can let them know what action will be taken.

Thank you Dan and Chief Butler for your dedication to take the time on your day off to walk our neighborhoods.  Mr. Garcia that he appreciated talking to city officials at his house, informally.  He can’t get down to city hall for a council meeting on Tuesday night. As a lifelong resident of Longmont, he declared he would not ever live anywhere else, no other place would have what this city offers.  I agree with him, no better place to live than Longmont, Colorado. 

/ Our Trouble and Sorrows Are No Longer Secrets

The mobile home park we walked in last Sunday brought to my mind when I got home “*Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone “because as I walked with Mike and Jessica Goldberg of Longmont community Justice Partnership (LCJP) I felt I would never walk alone again. Some of those who we met and shared with were senior citizens who live alone and are dealing with severe medical issues, one gentleman who served our Country and who must journey to the VA health facility in Ft. Collins for his health care needs and yet was smiling when he met and talked and shared with us. And the gentlemen who we met and Jessica enlightened him about the mission of LCJP and Wow! he not only knew of LCJP but had been helped by LCJP several years ago to resolve a stolen car issue, which oh my proof right here that LCJP a great organization resolving issues for the betterment of our great Longmont Community.

And how sad it was that the gentleman who we met who had relocated to Longmont after losing all in the horrible 2013 flood and who got ripped off and who Mike said in affect “I don’t know for sure what I can do but let me see if I can help you” and they will be in contact soon! Good on you Mike! Good on you! for helping this distraught man. And there was Billy who is suffering from severe back and other maladies who was smiling from ear to ear after meeting and sharing Mike and Jessica.

YES! after our walk/s I really felt that that those we have met and shared with after meeting and sharing with Mike that they would walk on with hope in their hearts and would never walk alone! As they belonged!

Thank you, Jessica Goldberg, from LCJP for walking with us your smile and oh so nice demeanor made those we met feel oh so good! And thank you for the photo you took of me in front of the big carved from a tree Bear in the Mobile Home park knowing that I am an alumnus of the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and a UNC Bears fan. And it also is how I feel thumbs up for our neighborhood walks!

*Richard Rogers & Hammerstein

Dan Benavidez

 

Mike’s Perspective

The tenor of this walk could be “Our trouble and sorrows are no longer secrets.” We discover the abundance of our community not only when our gifts are acknowledged, but also when our troubles and sorrows are revealed. We make them public. They become community knowledge. Making our gifts and our troubles known makes them available for sharing. The range and variety of the troubles we bear gives us the fuel for community and for powerful connection.

Perhaps this means that the connectedness of our community depends on our willingness to share with others what is most intimate and personal. And perhaps “the job” of building community is to make it safe and sacred for personal problems and gifts to come out of the closet. The single parent seeks the help of neighbors when their teenager runs away. The family next door holds a “wake” for the friends and family of a loved one who passed away. Neighbors rally to help those who are struggling with homelessness in their neighborhood. We don’t call the cops; we don’t call bereavement counselors; we don’t call the service specialists. As people, as neighbors, as congregations, as employees of a business, as friends, as residents of our community, we embrace those who are struggling and those on the margin and minimize the consumer mindset that our sorrows and troubles can only be dealt with by the trained professionals. The healing nature of an intimate community can be very powerful!

Dan, Jessica and I walked a mobile home park in north Longmont Sunday. Those we met shared stories of hardship in their lives including various kinds of losses and health issues. The miracle of our walk on Sunday was that Brad, Billie, Tony, Ray, Avis, Robert and Terry were all open to the belief that it takes a village to raise a child, heal our woundedness, and care for those who need. Their vulnerability was laid open for us to hold and for us to help.

When Dan and I walk a neighborhood, we are prepared for a continuum of stories and revelations. We come to a neighborhood with intention and leave feeling welcomed and loved. We never would have imagined that almost every single person we chanced to encounter would be so open and so vulnerable. Our Belonging Revolution has gifted us with the responsibility to hold sacred those inner most feelings and thoughts people share with us. And on each and every walk, Dan and I leave feeling privileged and honored to be brought into the lives and families of those we encounter. This experience is truly life-giving for us. We encourage all to become part of your own Belonging Revolution in your neighborhoods and in your community!

 

Jessica's Perspective

This was the second time I've walked with Mike and Dan. Their curiosity about people is so clear, and I think it is what makes people stop and give them some time. When one flood victim told his story, I was at a loss for words.  Mike just kept reflecting what he heard and asking questions until he found a place where he might be helpful to the person - and he did! Dan bravely approached every person who was outside, found opportunity for respectful humor, and always asked about people's experience as veterans. I've met people who were served by restorative justice on both walks because Dan always finds a way to make it part of the conversation.

I drive by this neighborhood every day and I'll admit to sometimes exceeding the speed limit. Hearing the noise from the road and hearing from multiple residents about the dangerous situations they have seen on that road makes me feel accountable to them to slow down and not contribute to the problem. This is a small example of how, when we learn how we affect one-another, it can influence our behavior and feeling of responsibility for our community. This is the same reason restorative justice is effective at changing behavior, not just in someone taking responsibility for crime, but also among all the people who participate with them - their family, the harmed parties, the volunteers, and the police officers. As Dan said we realize we are not alone. As Mike said, when we feel safe to be vulnerable, we build community.

Jessica Goldberg, M.A.. (she/her/hers), Volunteer and Training Coordinator, Longmont Community Justice Partnership

 

/ Everyone has Gifts

Dan's Perspective

Yes, you must have faith! What a spiritual and heartening walk this past Sunday

was to me! as I had been down due to racial issues for quite some time but after this walk and I just knew it’s going to be okay.  It was enjoyable talking with the neighbors at St. Vrain Village which we had walked in sometime in the past and who one of the neighbors recognized us and was pleased that we were back again. And them sharing with us about their children going to school and understanding how hard they are working to just make it from day to day and the Latinos we met this time with a few exceptions were bi lingual and how they to a person told us that they had not felt or experienced being discriminated against in Longmont because they were Latinos and all felt they belonged and loved Longmont! One Latino told us he had been to several middle of the Country Northern States and yes, he felt big time discrimination there.

However, our walk was also very saddening in that practically all yes all who we talked to in the Village complained stridently about the homeless persons living nearby the river practically next door, and of the RV’s packed with people and others living in the bushes on the street next to the railroad tracks and next to the village that they were defecating, urinating all over the place and that their children were scared. That there were also hypodermic needles scattered throughout the neighborhood.

I have also witnessed this to some degree in my neighborhood and in addition for months now as we have walked in the neighborhoods we have witnessed and received complaints and frustrations from many, of our neighbors and fellow citizens that this homeless problem and the issues as of the result of this prevalent problem appears no longer to be just localized in certain neighborhoods but appears to maybe become a major issue throughout our City.

And thank you so very much Livia Hall for walking with us. It was a delight having you accompanying us on our walk!

Thank you, Dan Benavidez

 

Mike’s Perspective

Since the beginning of our walks over three years ago, the purpose of our Belonging Revolution has been about the importance of social capital (our community’s resources, expertise, skills and gifts) and the significant impact it can have in our community. We realize there are way too many people in our community whose gifts remain in the margin. We believe people will offer their gifts if they believe they belong to our community. Filling the need for belonging is not just a personal struggle for connection, but also a community problem which is why Dan and I walk every Sunday morning. And to enhance our efforts, the staff from our public safety department in Longmont (300 plus people) are now walking neighborhoods. And we hope soon, many more staff from the City of Longmont municipal government will also be walking neighborhoods!  Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence. To belong is to act as an owner and co-creator of our community. To be welcome, even if we are strangers. As if we came to the right place and are affirmed for that choice!

This past Sunday, Dan, Livia and I walked a mobile home park in the middle of town, the St. Vrain Village. There are approximately 150 homes in this park. We met with several people and each and every conversation was rich in its own unique way. Again and again, we encounter people who are so willing to engage and to share their hopes, their dreams and their pain. Sunday’s walk was emblematic of the openness and the welcome we receive on all of our walks. I have said before that meeting strangers, creating a dialogue and potentially a life-long relationship is a lost art. People are so hungry to connect, very willing to tell their stories, so unabashed to reveal their secrets. Again, I am going to emphatically state that the role of leaders in our society needs to change. Leaders need to get really good at asking powerful questions, skilled in convening, to value the relatedness of all, and be clear about their intentions. The possibilities of community lie not in the development of government or in the hands of experts or in the efficiency of our systems but in hearts, minds and souls of everyday people in our community. We need to embrace the ideal and idea that the social fabric of community is formed by an expanding shared sense of belonging. It is shaped by the idea that only when we are connected and care for the well-being of the whole that democracy thrives. None of us can enter Nirvana until all others have gone before us!

The prevailing theme of our conversations with the people who live in St. Vrain Village were concerns related to folks struggling with homelessness. Equally stressed was the belief on the part of everyone that they wanted and could make a difference in their community. Everyone we spoke with, except for one family (three young kids and two jobs), accepted our invitation to be part of future conversations that could create a future in Longmont that is different than our past or the present. Their gifts and their willingness to make an offering of their gifts is truly profound!

Again, EVERYONE has gifts! In our attraction to problems, deficiencies, disabilities, and needs, the missing community conversation is about gifts. It seems the only cultural practices that focus on gifts are retirement parties and funeral. We only express gratitude for people’s gifts when they are on their way out or gone. In our Belonging Revolution, we focus on the gifts people have rather than their needs or deficiencies. We believe that the greatest change comes from leveraging our gifts and not from the commodification of the plight of the human condition.  Those we spoke with on Sunday in St. Vrain Village were hungry to have their voices heard and to know their thoughts mattered! Among many others, Joe, Tabitha, Juan, Liz, Alvaro, Maryann and John all said yes to our invitation.

 

 

 

/ Glad You Are Our Neighbor

Angry! Yes, Angry big time was I when we began our walk last Sunday and I shared this with Chief Butler and Mar. I kept thinking enough already with all the racist male Cow ka ka! going on since last November and now Charlottesville! and on and on! been there most of my life and no more do I want to go back there NO WAY! And all the politicos and many of those in the establishment just talk, talk, talk, about stopping the madness. But more and more as I accompany Chief Butler on our Sunday walks I know for sure yes, for sure that being right down in the hoods meeting and talking with the people in a true “Belonging Revolution” is where it’s at!  that the “Belonging Revolution” is true example of we are all together! And yes, I know many of our Politicos and those in the establishment say they are too busy… give me a break!  Busy? Talk about busy! Chief Mike Butler is super busy 24/7 however he is still down in the neighborhoods every Sunday and sometimes during our walks he needs like on today’s walk to walk away from us for a while to deal with a police or fire issues he is still on the job but still down in the neighborhoods with the people.

And one thing for sure and I mean for sure is that Chief Butler is for real! yes for real! he cares about us! Really cares about all of us!  not just talk, he has been down in the neighborhoods with the people on Sunday mornings for more than three years! Yes, he for sure cares! he makes us all feel we belong, he makes those of color feel they are okay and for sure and I mean for sure that they/we belong! He makes all we meet no matter race, color, religion, gender, etc. on practically every Sunday for OVER THREE YEARS! in over 140 neighborhoods that he cares about us (AND HE REALLY DOES!) that we are okay that we belong! Mike, YOU HAVE A BIG HEART!  Thank you, Thank You, Thank you! And I get back from many from all over the State, the Country and abroad that Mike is for real! He is hugely admired! And justifiably so. And thank you ever so much Mar Matlak for walking with us, your brilliance, bilingualism and knowledge of the Latino culture such a great addition for Mike and me on our walk. Thank you again Mar!

And as usual after our walks I feel okay, yes okay that things are going to be alright ah a great feeling that I belong!  but  please no mas, no mas! with the racial discrimination Cow ka ka !

And the signs in the yard of that the wonderful awesome couple who we met and talked with and who made the signs and give to all who want them says it all.

No matter, where you are from, were glad you’re are neighbor

And in this house, we believe

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Women’s rights are human rights

NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL

SCIENCE IS REAL

LOVE IS LOVE

KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING

Dan Benavidez

 

Mar Matlak

I heard about "Belonging Revolution" a couple months ago. I thought it was a very interesting idea and a very warming action in this time of need, where reminding our community and our members that we love each other is important- love is caring. I find Dan Benavidez and Chief Mike, this two caring individuals, very inspiring so I joined them. 
 
The neighborhood we walked at was Kensington. This is a very diverse place. People from different backgrounds and ages, not only share space but also look after each other. It was also very interesting to see the different reactions of people surprised but thankful that "The chief of police" was at right there willing and open to hear about whatever they had to say. 
 
It was very impressive and heartwarming to be part of this team of change makers, the strong and deep connection that they have build in the communities for the last couple years and the unconditional support they offer to people without caring their legal status, race or economic level, is admirable.  
 
This was a reminder that "la unión hace la fuerza", that if the communities keep working together and form a solid community, and then, if we think about a bigger picture where, all the communities are fighting together for a common good, nothing will defeat them. We are all important pieces in the change we want to see in our world. 
 
Con ustedes en la lucha, Mar. 

 

/ Family Necessities

Dan's Narrative

Oh my gosh! it was hard for me to comprehend that we have been walking for so long a time and in so many neighborhoods when Mike mentioned when we were doing our walk that we have done over 140 neighborhood walks since we started our neighborhood walks over 3 years ago. And we spent most of our time on our walk talking and sharing with long conversations.

And during our walk last Sunday I was saddened and became irritated after we talked with the young man who was standing by the pickup truck he had rented and was loading up their family stuff as he and his wife were moving into a motel as they could no longer pay the rent which had been raised time and time again and now was taking the majority of their income and could no longer afford their family necessities and were because they were having to be vacating their rental were now being forced in affect to be homeless in that they would be living in a motel at least for a short time. But they want and said they will be staying in Longmont because their two children are autistic and the Longmont school’s good for their autistic children!

And as more and more rents are raised all over our city, many people in our community are confronted with huge and I mean huge problems to pay the rent which not only affects their being able to buy necessities but also are more and more threatening them with possibility of becoming homeless. The owners get more and more money and make more, and more profits with no regard to the hurt they are causing to those on social security and a fixed low income. Okay ENOUGH already!

And Mike you are so the very best! I mean for real the very best!  And real tears in my eyes when shortly after I got back to my humble casa you were sending out too many, to help you to help the young man and his family with money and other things so they will not be homeless.  WOW God bless you Mike! And God bless all l those who have already committed to help and thank you Jordan from Philanthropiece not only for walking with us again but offering to help Mike with an auto thing for the young couple You too mi amigo are one caring great person!

Thank you, Dan Benavidez

 

 Mike’s Narrative

The misfortune and fortune of our community revealed themselves on our walk Sunday. In one case, we spoke with Pat who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. She said she is happy and content, feels safe, has nice neighbors and she is willing to help out with more in our community.

There was Harvey, a self-described mason, who was happily preparing to help a friend build a brick fireplace. He spoke openly with Dan about their military service and access to Veterans Administration assistance especially services for mental health.

Joe spoke of his role as an HOA Board representative and his level of responsibilities for a condo complex. Joe also spoke of raising HOA dues to help with maintenance of the property. One big concern we had was the amount of increase the HOA board was going to recommend. Which gives light to the following story.

We met Edward. Edward was packing a U Haul pickup with kids bicycles and a few other sundry items. We introduced ourselves and Edward said he was moving. When asked where he was moving to, Edward said he did not know and proceeded to tell us his story. Edward is married with two kids. The management company has raised the rent significantly over the last few years to the point that his family can no longer afford to live there. They are currently staying at the Super 8 motel. They have sold all their furniture and their car. Edward works as a security guard and his wife works at Walmart. Their two kids have autism and he wants to keep them in the St. Vrain Valley School district. He is meeting with the OUR Center on Monday.

Unfortunately, Edward’s plight is not uncommon. There are landlords willing to keep rental rates similar year after year but it seems the market allows landlords to raise the rents considerably and there are those who are either pushed out of their homes and/or pushed out of our community. I am sure this is not new information for any one reading this but our personal connection with Edward and his family brings this social issue right into our lives. We will be helping Edward and his family as much as we can.

We also met Karen and Gene who spoke of concerns for their safety in an adjacent neighborhood. It was clear to me that their fear grew out of what they are exposed to in the media more than actual personal life experience albeit they did speak to the isolation and disconnectedness that seems to be growing.

As we have stated before, the media exploits the wounds of community by over-reporting fear, dramatizing the human condition, and headlining opposition and retribution. Work to do!

And as I like to remind people, for every bad set of circumstances, there are one thousand other sets of circumstances which include compassion, service and support! We live in world full of light with some dark spots and not in a world of darkness with some light spots. I would encourage everyone to think about all of the goodness that exists in our midst – it is mightily plentiful!

 

Jordan Bailey - Philanthropiece

This is the second 'walk' that I have done with the Belonging Revolution and I am even more impressed this time around than the first. In a moment of divisiveness and a mentality of 'US vs. THEM' in our country, the 'walk' brings people and communities together. Being able to express your fears, desires and vision for your community in a safe environment will only make you feel more connected to those around you, creating a strong social fabric. The 'walks' has inspired me to be more active in my local community. In fact, I have already taken action as a result of listening to the everyday challenges that our neighbor's face. Finally, if our leaders were at the grassroots level, I believe they would have a true grasp on the issues that matter most to the community. With that said, I invite you to meet your neighbor and spark a conversation with someone new today.... We have more in common than you might think! 

Be brave, Jordan Bailey - Field Coordinator