Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This is what "community" looks like...at the Community GATE!

The Community GATE
              Neighbors helping neighbors...
                    A Give And Take Experience...
                     What do all of these things have in common?

In times past, pioneers understood very well what it meant to know your neighbors and take care of one another. On a wintry midwest plain, "community" could mean the difference between survival and defeat. But the world is changing. It is not quite such a safe place anymore. We seem to have forgotten in many ways just what it means to truly live in a supportive relationship with those in our community. 
But this is the 21st century...pioneer days are over, right? Everyone works for themselves, pays their own bills, buys their own stuff...right? People don't have to lean on neighbors, trust in their community when tough times come, connect with others just to include people in the area social circle...right? These are modern times...surely we have reached a point of personal independence wherein we don't need to rely on our fellow man nor feel obligated to lend a hand to someone else. Surely we can just move in solitude through life and allow others to do the same..."ships passing in the night", so to speak.

Surely we can do that...
Or not.
Consider the difference...

Consider a community of individuals whom no one really knows, recognized by address but not by name, known by the car they drive down the street at various intervals...lots of people in a geographic area, but not connected in any personal way.

Now consider a community of individuals who know their neighbors on the same block, whose faces and names are known and who are called friends, whose children are looked out for by observant neighbors who care about their safety. Consider that neighborhood when a winter storm knocks out the power and people rally to make sure everyone on the block is warm and has a meal ready. 

Consider the difference.

The Community GATE is not just a free recycling site. This is not an organization promoting thrift stores and yard sales (though neither are "bad" in any way, and we do encourage thriftiness in every form!). This is an entirely different experience in social interaction wherein people willingly pay heed to the needs and requests of fellow members and meet those needs out of their own abundance.

Oh yeah, abundance. About that. In our society, "abundance" can mean many things but for my purpose here I will focus on the definition that states "having enough of a necessary item to meet a need or desire". In other words, if I have even just one egg in my refrigerator and my neighbor needs just one egg, then I have an abundance of eggs...I can bless my neighbor with the egg they need, and I too am blessed by the energy of generosity. When we realize that "abundance" does not consist in having a ton of excessive possessions or finances but simply means that we have what is needed for ourselves and/or for someone else, we rise above the separation of the haves and the have-nots. It is no longer a situation of someone who has a lot giving to someone who does not have enough...it is a matter of one person sharing what they have, whether in tangible items, personal assistance, time and friendship, or help finding services in an unfamiliar area...and allowing someone else the opportunity to do the same. 

There is also the issue of something that is unneeded by one person being a treasure to someone else. Such items are not necessarily garbage...and they just might be a perfectly timed blessing to someone who can use them! Recently, this became evident during our first free giveaway event here in Burien, WA....

One member who helped to host the event mentioned a television cabinet she wanted to get rid of. Another member seemed interested, and as it turns out the exchange was confirmed! So one member cleared some needed space in her home, and another member has a piece of furniture she really enjoys.

THAT is community.

At the same time, a close relative of a member was undergoing a very serious illness and treatment requiring numerous hospital visits. Neither the member nor their relative own a vehicle, so another Community GATE member offered to drive them to each appointment clear across town.

THAT is community.

You see, it is not all about the stuff. Yes, we give things away. A LOT of things, actually! Yes, we can ask for stuff that we want or need, and we do receive many of those things! But the amazing thing is not the sheer amount of stuff that we keep out of landfills, or the nifty trinkets we bring home. The truly amazing thing is seeing people who might have lived in the same area for years but never met, connecting....seeing people literally digging through closets and attics for items they are able to gift to someone else, simply for the thrill of meeting a need...seeing people stepping into their neighborhoods on a mission of giving. The funny thing is, receiving is a natural outcome when so many seek to simply give! It happens as surely as a bean plant producing green beans!

As I finish writing up this little blurb about this community I love, I cannot help but think of the things the Community GATE has done specifically for ME. I founded the Community GATE just a short time ago with the help of a few friends and loved ones who shared a vision: we wanted a community where people could offer and receive tangible items, but also share personal advice, local referrals, support one another's business and artistic endeavors, and truly share in each other's lives. We value acceptance, perseverance, frugal abundance, generous giving, positive outlooks, and honest interaction. Here, we find all of those things and more as we meet new people and open ourselves to build relationships that last.

In recent years, "gifting economies", "sharing economies", and "community integration" have all become buzzwords charged with various emotions. The Community GATE is none of those, yet ALL of those! We do not limit ourselves to one method of blessing those around us and we receive countless blessings in various forms in return. In so doing, we open a door for people of every variety to engage, to build, to develop stronger neighborhoods and communities by developing stronger relationships within them.

We hope you will stop by and say hello...
the GATE is always open! 

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