I have been thinking a lot about community today. My year on the road was like doing an anthropological study. I observed people all over the country. I talked with hundreds of total strangers. I drove for thousands of miles with nothing to do but think. I witnessed disempowerment and empowerment. The difference being a disempowered person feels isolated and an empowered person feels like they are part of something bigger. I really notice it in the woodturning community. While traveling around teaching I would reach out to clubs to bring lathes to schools or help me find a shop to prep stock in. Someone always came through. I could not have even thought about leaving my home for a year if I did not know there was support from many people in many places. On my trip I thought what a different world it would be if we all felt like we were part of something. The church works for some, clubs and special interests for others. Coming home to Roslindale has been an eye opener. I have a community of friends and neighbors who are really involved in their community. Saturday I went to Roslindale’s second monthly Community Kitchen. Our local community group has six hundred members. Two women in our community had a special interest in food, gardening and cooking. They put the word out and around 12 people showed up last month at the kitchen in our local community center. We were pretty much strangers to each other but with a common cause we sliced, peeled, baked, boiled, and by the time it was over we had all met and talked. We all left with a little of all the dishes prepared, as the week passed and I opened each new container and silently thanked each person for their help in making my meal. The second meeting was like greeting old friends. It does not seem like much but the value of the experience is amazing. Two weeks ago on the way to the train a smiling face said hi Beth how are you. It was someone I met at the Community Kitchen and it totally pulled me out of my train station bubble. I noticed that some of the knives were dull at our first meeting so I brought my sharpening stones to the second meeting. I taught some people how to sharpen which meant time to chat, and I got heart-felt thanks for sharpening the knives of some of the cookers. Kim and Eric (two people I met at our local community Self Employed Lunch group) came and brought their fiddle and bass. I realized later that it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.
When we look a big project it seems overwhelming so we are paralyzed to even start. If we took that big project and divided it into many little projects it is doable. For instance our community group had the mission statement to reduce our areas carbon footprint by a huge number. That seemed overwhelming. But the simple act of the Community Kitchen has already made a tiny little dent. We shared oven space. We cooked vegetarian. Some members arranged to bring fifty pounds of organic flour at a low group cost. Many of the participants started discussing possible get togethers to learn, gardening, composting, water conservation etc… Each of these things will happen- our community will be more self sufficient- projects will get done with the help of neighbors- as I stood in the room Saturday I saw the multiplying effect of community swirling around me. It was very exciting.
Last week I got logs from Kyle and here is a picture of some of the test bowls I have been making. I am interested in the texture of the when it dries. I am also including a picture of a bowl my friend Leah turned. Her brother planted a tree many years ago on the families’ property in Maine. The tree came down for some reason and Leah wanted to make a bowl for him out of it. She has turned three so far. This is her first. She took it home and with the help of a book on chip carving and a couple cuts I showed her she created this. It blew my mind. This is her first piece. On the topic of community – Leah donated an unending Star Bucks Card to me for my trip. It was a comfort during the lean weeks. Her kind act makes me feel good about helping her. That is another way community multiplies, through daily generous acts.