I live in a rather conservative suburban community. Calling it my town does not land well on my ears. I prefer to be from Greater New Haven.
It does NOT have the ‘walk for blocks and inhale humanity feel’ of communities like Portland or Providence, Boston or St. Louis. What it does have is hiking trails and some artisan shops, great local bakers and potential. The potential lies in areas where our community data exceeds the norms and kindness can make-a-difference; challenges like opioid addiction, racism and food and housing insecurity.
It has the most wonderful public library, an incredible variety of eateries, wineries, a repertory theater, chorus, YMCA, farms with CSAs and orchards. There is a thriving senior center that I have been old enough to join for some time now, but have not. It is home to an internationally recognized private school with which I have no true connections. I do have a few strong indirect connections that I have had no good reason to leverage. And, of course, there is this place I am trying to bring into its potential (with the help of others); the community TV station. #YourTownYourStation#YourVoice
Do the work and it will speak for itself.
Chalked on my message board is “A king, a czar, an emperor, a few godfathers and Peter Pan live here.” I need to add ‘maven’: the accumulator of knowledge, simplifier of process, and enabler of story.
For Community TV there is a bitter-root anchored in stories that precede my arrival in town. They remain wrapped in mysteries about parody, slander and fear. It makes organizational survival hard and the ability to succeed ever more daunting. There is a constancy to roadblocks. The reality is that one public harasser can set the work back way-too-quickly and has. I have been the target of harassment twice and bullied by town elders a few times. As a counterpoint, I have also been a best friend to ‘the other” often and a life-line to more than I can count. Herein is both the problem and the solution: the vulnerability of connections. To build community the work is making a human connection with both the disavowed and the bullies.
Our community building TV work is more than providing tools & stage. It requires an attitude that says ‘Our doors are open for just-works.’
I must remain optimistic that together with those who come through the doors we can dispel bitter-roots that rage & rumors magnify and uplift stories that humanize us all.