I have been thinking about how difficult it can be for people to meet others and do new things. We are, most of us, at least sometimes, a bit shy, or insecure about ourselves, and not certain how to reach out. This is more likely to be the case when we’ve been having a hard time in our lives, or if we feel powerless or hopeless about ourselves or our situation.
I went to a meeting the other day to start up a yarn bombing project – public knitting, or as someone I know calls it, making jumpers for trees. It was a good meeting, good numbers, and a good mix of ages too. It was held at the local over 50’s centre (now called positive aging centres), and there were a few long term knitters there to offer technical support.
I had invited a few people to come along, and was really thrilled that some of them made it. One had got lost on the way, but still came, and the other had also had trouble finding the place. One woman, I could see, was just thrilled to be there, and was very friendly to others, although I know that underneath she was quite nervous. The other came along partly because it sounded like such a wild idea, and she wanted to be part of it.
I am interested though in the couple of people I asked to come along who didn’t make it. They are both lovely women, and both would be great contributors to the project. However both are pretty isolated. They stick to themselves, and don’t do things outside of their usual sphere, and yarn bombing would be very different for both of them. I think that we can get trapped in our routines and our ways of seeing ourselves. Doing new things is, or can be, so hard. How can we break through this? How can we allow ourselves a different experience, another way of seeing ourselves and being ourselves? How can we accept invitations, even when we have no idea what we are getting ourselves into?
From a community point of view, how can we reach out more, so that our projects are more open to folk who don’t usually participate? How can we be more welcoming, more accessible, more open to the shy, the lonely and the insecure, who are also talented, full of hopes, and who have abilities to love, care and contribute that would make a difference to us all?
If community building were a knitting project, how could we incorporate different types of yarn, different styles of knitting, different kinds of patterns, different sized needles, crocheting and macrame and tomboy and anything else along the way? How can the beauty and variousness of the world around us be reflected in our creation?
I would love to hear any ideas or thoughts you might have about this. How can we make a difference here, either as community organisers or as shy potential participants?