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How Are You Supporting Your Community?

August 31, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve mentioned community in the blog often. It was a big part of “Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past.” Community has been needling at me yesterday. Being part of one. The give and take of community. The network of community. The people who still say online isn’t real.

Guess what folks. It’s real. Community is changing. It looks different now than 40 years ago or 80 years ago. Most people don’t go to the Grange anymore or even know what the Grange was. But to say online isn’t real is just not true.

When I log off Twitter at night I typically say something to the effect of “Goodnight all. Make a difference for someone! SlowMoneyFarm.com”  – because if just once or twice a week someone makes a small difference, or a big difference for someone how much better will our communities be?

Every one of us has good times and bad times. It doesn’t matter if we’re in agriculture, or car sales, or a service industry or any sector of a community. There are times things are doing good and there’s times it’s not so much. This has not changed all that much.

I remember going to town with my dad and two brother to get the government handout. I know dad was very embarrassed to do this; he had my two brothers walk ahead of us pulling a little red wagon with the weekly stores in it. On every package were the words “Not to be sold” in large letter. He always had a blanket to cover up the things in the wagon. It bothered him greatly that he couldn’t provide for his family. On arrival at home things were transferred to other sacks and cans, and the bags were burnt.”  Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past

I know there are people within the agriculture community who have lean times occasionally. It’s pretty easy to help others when things are good but really sucks to be the one needing to ask for help. Some of us have learned over the years it’s better to humbly ask than stubbornly refuse.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo it was with the same embarrassment my grandfather felt at covering the supplies with blankets that last night I messaged a local community Facebook page – one that has been active in helping people get appointments to the doctor or dentist or help with a utility bill.  We had an almost $500 interruption to income this month down from normal. The utilities were paid, house payment is covered but supplies are stretched thin.

And it’s easy for people to judge and throw stones. It was true in the day of Jesus and it’s true today. The chickens are not only steps to future but immediate food in the source of eggs. Yes we’ve tried asking for restaurant waste from salad bars – but there’s health regulations feeding veggies to chickens. It’s easy for people to say just get rid of the dogs – a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We take them on for life, not until things get a little rocky. It’s easy to refuse because face it, we all have tough times.

But I watched an interesting thing – and on the heels of the AgChat Conference, perhaps it was more apparent. So often in agriculture we see people tearing down one part of ag to build themselves up. And it’s not just agriculture folks – it’s human nature. I saw the same drama happening to attack the community I reached out to. They said that the people and situations were fake.

Well we aren’t fake. Community – online and off – is not fake. There are good people willing to step up and help without dissecting motives and intent. I think of those who came, earlier in the year, for eggs to eat…I didn’t ask their income, or what they’d do with them or maybe they’d sell the eggs. People in need aren’t always negative – good people have bad times too folks.

There are leaders and there are critics in every area. But for those who jump in to help on the Walker County Area News community – thank you. For those who look around and see someone in need, and fill the need – thank you. For the friend in the ag community who balance those bad and good times without judgement – thank you.

Yes there are scams out there. Yes there are dishonest people out there. Yes there are people so addicted to drama they don’t want to change things.

But there’s a great many people in a temporary bad situation that need a hand up, not a hand out. My grandmother fostered that with serving meals at the back door to someone in need of a meal. And today, someone I don’t know left an envelope at Jasper Feed that allowed us to breathe a little easier at insuring that everyone eats this week.

It’s these experiences that drive the sponsorships going to the future to provide food for those near falling through the cracks. May we all never stop seeing – and helping – those in our communities – be it online, offline or where the two come together.

Krish Dhanam said, in his book The American Dream From An Indian Heart “All worthwhile causes had at the helm people who recognized their value before societal salutations became popular.”

Our communities need those leaders – not elected people but those willing to step out and make a difference because they can. To those who do – thank you. To those who have benefited – pass it on!

In the spirit of taking the high road, repeated by my early social media mentors, I won’t give a comment to recognize the detractors here. Be positive. Help others. Thank others. Your community is waiting.

That can change much.

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