Over the past decade, I experienced the loss of my home in a Southern California wildfire, the collapse of a business after the economic crisis in 2008-2009, and my future as an educator melt away …
Over the past decade, I experienced the loss of my home in a Southern California wildfire, the collapse of a business after the economic crisis in 2008-2009, and my future as an educator melt away when the economy of my state and country faltered and the teaching positions I had hoped to garner disappeared.
I had a lot of ideas about how to fix things. I read numerous books by philosophers, economists, and futurists. I even wrote a book passing on ideas and organizational information that could be helpful. All of this research and writing fed into the eventual distillation of my ideas down to a common denominator - the need to build strong, tight-knit communities.
To create that community, many things were important. I began to see that what mattered most, though, was building deep-seated connections to one another, which can only be accomplished by spending time together and, particularly, spending time together in creative ways. There is just something about hanging out and creating things together that bonds us to one another. Another important aspect of community is that the community activities need to be inter-generational in ways that reflect real life, rather than activities that are separated into age groups, gender groups, and status groups.
I gradually realized that another very basic ingredient of community building was the use of a communication model that is effective at bringing and keeping people together.
While Port Townsend is both a friendly and artistic town, after I arrived in 2011, I did not find a lot of places where many people were creating together on a regular basis. Then, last year, I met a young woman who had a similar dream of creating strong, tight-knit community with all generations interacting with one another, learning from one another and supporting one another. From that connection, the Intergenerational Art Movement arose.
Once a month, during the summer, we bring art and music supplies to Chester Square (formerly Sweet Laurette’s courtyard) and invite everyone who walks by to create art, music, photography and poetry together. The next intergenerational art happening is set for noon July 14 at 1029 Lawrence St.
My partner and I have now connected with Local 20/20, and are leading the Resiliency of the Heart action group where our focus will include: community artistic collaborations such as collages and murals; monthly communication and community building workshops; and opportunities to participate in a gift economy, where we share our talents with one another.
Find us at the All County Picnic on Aug. 19 at HJ Carroll Park and e-mail us to get on our mailing list. Let us know which of our activities you would enjoy being a part of. We are also looking for volunteers to help with these events and help us grow. Contact us at email@example.com.
Suzanne Jones is an artist and musician who is also a practitioner of the communication model, Nonviolent Communication. She has authored several books on the use of this model to facilitate genuine and compassionate relationships in the community, the workplace and the classroom.