Kathleen here. Yesterday Tara and I were in a meeting with a couple of soulful creatives who are out on a mission to change the world and create community – one person at a time. In fact, most of our dream clients and creative colleagues either want to build, facilitate, or crave a sense of belonging to their tribe. The idea of cultivating community has always been a bit overwhelming to me – until recently. It’s been hard for me to pinpoint what “community” even really means and I wasn’t sure I’d know it if I saw it – until I built a fire pit in my own backyard.
Around this time last year I was just a few months in to my new mom gig and my world had been turned upside down by a new tiny human. One Friday night after work I was hanging out with my sister in her kitchen (yup, we’re business partners and best friends) wearing my sweet happy baby in a sling. My husband texted “where you at?” and when I told him he offered to pick up some pizza and beer. We were all together and for the first time I felt comfortable in my new normal. Everything about that evening was so good, and as we were leaving to head home for a long sleepless night my sister’s neighbor came out wanting to see the baby. In the midst of some neighborly chit-chat she mentioned that the mid-century modern split-level house next to hers was about to go on the market – I said “SOLD!” and just a couple months later my little family was moving into a house practically across the street from my sister.
One of the things that appealed to me most about my new neighborhood were the neighbors. When I signed on the dotted line I also inherited an annual block party – I was happy to oblige. During Christmastime neighbors leave hand-painted ornaments, presents for your kids, and tins filled with cookies and caramel corn “from Santa” on your porch. The whole neighborhood celebrates the 4th of July with our own little parade. Even so, I craved something more… I wanted to get to know my neighbors beyond the holiday bustle. So I built a fire pit. Now almost every weekend around dusk we start a fire and my neighbors bring the beer and marshmallows. Kids run around in my yard while the grown ups exchange candid conversation and big belly laughs. Or sometimes we’ll just quietly stare into the fire together as the night sky around us grows darker.
So back to the other day in this meeting when our clients were talking about building real community … I couldn’t help but ask “What’s your fire pit?” What’s the thing that brings everyone together and invites an exchange of thoughts and ideas? Is it an actual fire pit? Maybe it’s a table at your favorite coffee shop. Maybe it’s a monthly book club or even a Facebook group. What’s your fire pit?
It can be hard to cultivate community, but building a fire pit … that’s easy.