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Let me tell you a story.
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Years ago I had a vision that has been with me ever since it filled my imagination. Picture all of us standing in lines. Long lines. Many lines, parallel to each other. We are all facing a counter (with partitions since 2020 of course) where men and women sit with piles of papers next to them. Our faces are pinched. We are clenching our paperwork and shifting our feet, shuffling forward one at a time, waiting our turn.
In my vision, those are the lines for services and system supports for ourselves or people we cherish. We need them, desperately, and our faces cannot hide the stress we are feeling about what we might get, or not get, and how we can make it through either way.
The space is eerily silent. Everyone is looking down at their feet, or up at the ceiling, occasionally leaning to peer ahead and try to determine how much longer until their turn. An occassional cough and some low mumbling at the counter is all that is heard.
Here comes my fantasy…
Imagine that we are all standing in this line, but as we do, we are all chatting. Introducing ourselves. Telling each other who we are, about our kids, about our challenges and fun stories about our lives. And why we are here.
Here are some of the conversations that are taking place in my mind’s eye.
Woman 1: “I’d love to have you and your family over sometime, but my house is such a mess and my lawn needs desperately to be mowed. I’m too embarrassed.”
Man 1: “I get it. I love my house but it really needs to be painted. And I work from home. My office is a disaster.”
Woman 2: “I used to have friends come over for coffee but that can’t happen because I have no respite any more, they quit and I’m looking now. I’m pretty lonely.”
Man 2: “So, if you’re interested, I have a teenage son who is looking to earn some extra money and he would totally come over and mow for you…”
Woman 3: “I love to organize, I just can’t do it for myself. If you want, I could come and help you organize your home office.”
Man 3: “Hey, I’m pretty good with a paint brush so maybe we could put a little paint team together and paint some rooms.”
Woman 4: “I’ve been doing a Zoom coffee gathering, and I’d love to have you come.”
You get the picture. That is my vision, and the fantasy I have of all of us turning to each other as we wait for the things that the systems can provide, filling in the gaps for those needs we all have that the systems cannot provide.
Well, in 2018 I began by throwing this idea out there and inviting people to come to my first gathering. We met, I shared the vision, and we got to work on how to make it happen. COMMUNITY BUILDERS OF MASSACHUSETTS WAS BORN.
Fast forward – stupid pandemic ground everything to a halt, of course, but just before that we had built some serious momentum, with 5 gatherings taking place across Massachusetts, each with 10-20 people attending!
As we continued the conversation, we realized that we needed some organization, buy-in, expectations and commitments. We didn’t want to have just a handful of hard workers and hundreds of people simply taking without contributing. So we started envisioning a space, probably online, where we could gather and build a capacity library of skills and commitments we all were willing to list – where people could both give and receive.
Thanks to some innovative researchers among us (a capacity!), we discovered TimeBanks USA. We didn’t have to invent the wheel! That was just what we were looking for!
So now you’re basically caught up to where we are as Builders. We are about to launch our own TimeBank, and gatherings will resume in 2022. Ready to be part of something incredible? Join my mailing list! Become a Builder!
I’m ready to become a member!
This is your first step to joining our initiative. Sign up here for the next “First Friday” Virtual Gathering.
Members: here are other ways to participate
This is the tool we are building right now to start capturing and sharing our gifts and skills to support each other and fill in gaps where “services” don’t cover. While in the creation process, I am looking for folks to help me get the ball rolling. See more.
Whether in person or via Zoom, you can gather your community members and host a gathering where we’ll get to know each other and play the “We Can” capacity game to start learning about each other’s gifts and capacities. You’ll be shocked at what you learn!