Living in Community, Part V
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and our own.”
Point to Ponder:
Do you know your neighbors?
On Valentine’s Day the kids and I went to iGnite member and friend Delaine Teeple’s house for a little play date. Upon arrival I noticed her super fun turquoise picnic table sitting in her front yard. I asked her about it and she let me know that another friend of ours, Kristin Schell, intentionally moved her picnic table from her back yard to her front yard, and because her favorite color is turquoise, painted it turquoise. That’s when the magic of community began to occur. Neighbors congregated around the table to eat, drink, share and more. This is when Kristin began to tell her friends and write about it on her blog, KristinSchell.com.
As a result, Kristin’s friends and neighbors also began getting turquoise tables too, including Delaine. I was completely sold on the idea when Delaine told me her own turquoise table testimonial. Pre-turquoise table, her six year old daughter Adele had an unsuccessful lemonade stand in their front yard, BUT post turquoise table they had two hours of non-stop neighbors and community. That’s so cool!
I immediately got in touch with Kristin about getting my own turquoise table, and she directed me to contact Allison Eskew (email@example.com) at ReWork Project. Equally as inspiring as the mission of ‘the turquoise table’ is that of ReWork Project, which is helping men and women get off the street by providing friendship, dignity and opportunity. Amazingly, not only is the turquoise table getting people out of their homes and back yards and into their front yards where community is built, but it’s now providing work for men and women! How wonderful is that?!
My turquoise table testimonial is this: My happy table that I purchased for $195.00 and paid $20 cash for delivery, was delivered to my front yard last Monday, March 23. Because the weather has been perfect, I immediately began using it as my outdoor office. The first day I had three neighbors stop, visit and talk about how they’ve heard about the turquoise table and wanted one. One neighbor I had never met, and I was elated to give them Allison’s email address so they could order a table. Then on Wednesday, another neighbor whom I’d never met stopped, introduced herself and said she loved the Turquoise Table Movement. She was actually looking for her dog, so I was able to be on the lookout for it. It was then that I decided that on Wednesday evening we would have a family lemonade sale on the turquoise table benefiting our fundraising efforts for Beyond Batten Disease Foundation/Run to the Sun Team iGnite. The result was three hours of non-stop community, me getting a chance to inform our neighbors about Batten disease, $45 dollars raised for BBDF, and a last minute neighborhood spring social at our house Saturday night. It was insanely awesome!
It’s unfortunate that times have changed and are unlike when I was growing up when we never locked our front door and I could tell you the first and last names of everyone who lived in our community. I suppose life is more dangerous and the result is we are less trusting, more private, and distracted by all of the things that keep us busy — work, kid activities, social media, television, computers, and so much more. Or, could it possibly be that we are exposed to all of the violence in the world which makes us fearful of our own neighbors and people in general? Social worker and Ph.D, Brene Brown actually theorizes that our society became less vulnerable following the tragic events of 911. This of course has to do with the hyper-terrorism focus in the media as well as our natural personal response to a terrifying event, but keeping to ourselves, living inward and not knowing our neighbors’ names, who have been your neighbor for eight years and is only two houses down is outrageous. Embarrassingly, this was my experience on Wednesday when Charleen, my neighbor of eight years purchased lemonade, and I didn’t even know her name. Ironically, for eight years I’ve been focused on growing and impacting the iGnite community, while I’ve missed out on getting to know my own next door neighbors.
What I am loving so much about the turquoise table is that it forces me to get outside of my house or back yard, which is where the kids typically play, and it gives me a fun reason to sit in my front yard where community can easily be cultivated. To me, having my turquoise table is saying “no” to living a fearful, private and distracted life and “yes” to being vulnerable, welcoming neighbors and possibly strangers into mine and my family’s life. It’s living in community and that’s not only how I believe we are created to live, but that’s also what makes life so rich and beautiful!
Challenge yourself to introduce yourself to at least one of your neighbors you’ve never met this week. Maybe even email firstname.lastname@example.org about getting your own turquoise table :)