Last Sunday afternoon – 19th July 2015 – we began a conversation about a new initiative for Highfields – something for families and real life, engaging with values and spirituality. This article describes that open meeting and the beginning of a conversation that started with three questions.
There were about 12 of us there from aged 9 to retired, all of whom had opted to come all of whom had opted to come because they wanted to be part of something. We asked ourselves three questions as follows:
(1) To design this new group/community what building blocks do you think should be used?
(2) What should it (ie the new group/community) not be?
(3) A local community project would give us a focus in Highfields: what could it be?
All the questions were answered by grouping around tables, chatting and sharing thoughts in writing.
To design this new group/community what building blocks do you think should be used? What values are important to us?
This is what we wrote on the bricks: wonder, real, stillness, family, reflection, joy!, justice, friends, compassion, laughter, community, welcome, care, fun, spiritual, nature, kindness, patience, fun, empathy, ‘tea, coffee, biscuits & toilets, hospitality, welcome’, all ages, sustainable, honesty, silliness, inviting, supportive, loving service, welcome, us.
Reflecting on this one said: ‘I like what I’m seeing'; another: ‘If we start like this I want to be part of it’.
What should it (ie the new group/community) not be?
Things written here were: just another meeting for busy people, an insular group, another church service, something that needs ‘running’, just a talking shop, too pious or too naff, pressure to commit, old, religious, clique-y, run totally by outsiders.
A local community project would give us a focus in Highfields: what could it be?
Our answers to this question written in the thought cloud here were: continuous footpath West Drive to school, plant bulbs, the peace garden, better communication, litter pick up, better park facilities, shop (and similar ideas including community shop), coffee shop (and similar), skate park, gym, family games night.
Some of these are definitely within our ability, some could be, some are definitely not!
(As input we had the answers to questions that I asked people at the picnic on 11 July and in the Caldecote Facebook group in the following week: (i) what do you like about living in Highfields? (ii) what one thing would you change if you could? These are on this picture if you want to enlarge it and take a look.)
We also took a moment to complete the sentence: ‘Today I am thankful for…’ because gratitude for what we have is a richer, more creative starting point than beginning with a sense of lack.
Then we sat around the table together for a shared meal (thank you to those who were able to bring food to share). A shared meal is something that I think might become quite important to us. While we ate we continued to chat about what we might do together, and particularly about the shape of the community we want to be. Some of the things we discussed were to do with being inter-generational, an emphasis on being not just doing, growing relationships, starting with ourselves where we want to effect change, being grounded in a Christian spirituality and welcoming all.
We also talked a little bit about our hopes and dreams, holding them before God in a prayer. And right at the end we touched briefly on the need for a name. ‘Yeast’ was mentioned, perhaps linking with the idea of starting with ourselves and impacting the wider village. But we’ll see, and we’ll carry on the creativity of that discussion and extend it to thinking about when we meet and what those gatherings might look like.
Those who are interested in continuing this conversation will meet again on Sunday 23 August at 5pm – 6.30ish in the village hall, again ending with a meal together.
Watch this space for further developments.