Editor’s Note: We spoke with four Community Living Brant staff, Jenna Nieman, Rishia Burke, Tara Buchanan and Jocelyn Birkes, who participated in Community Living Brant’s fourth annual ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) Symposium in May of this year. This story was woven together from reflections those staff shared about the three-day event.
At first, there was sitting in uncertainty. There were new challenging ideas. There was even some dissonance. We questioned a lot.
As a result of the pandemic we hadn’t gathered in community for a very long time. As we began our 2022 Symposium, we had no idea who anyone was, who they were affiliated with, or where they came from.
But we came together. Everyone just genuinely interacted with one another on a level playing field. We’d never experienced anything like this before.
We connected by experiencing. We sang, we laughed, we listened. We told stories, we created.
People ate great food. We got into activities, even if it wasn’t what we’d expected. In fact, many didn’t even know what to expect at all. There was drumming, creating, singing. Many of us were pushing our limits but got outside of our comfort zones.
We saw the beauty of what was being made and the people who were making it. There were so many different folks with different passions, and so much help from everyone.
We learned about self care and all its important aspects. Yoga’s energy of calmness refocused the room. Random acts of kindness brought creativity and joy.
We learned new things about key initiatives that connect with our own personal passions and gifts. People found places, discovering a gift or passion they didn’t even know they had. Some found something new they wanted to pursue. Agency folks were pondering, and looking for, their place in community. We chatted about the event, what resonated, and new ideas flew through the air.
We saw the bubbling up of new action for individuals and for groups and hopefully for agencies.
We saw art, all three days. We saw the beauty of what was being made and the people who were making it. There were so many different folks with different passions, and so much help from everyone.
By the end of these three days, we knew the names of every person who had attended, not because we knew them beforehand, or because we knew their organization or where they were from, but because we had legitimately experienced all of these things together.
New ideas and storytelling brought laughter and energy. We were energized by these new ideas, and the need for change.
It really did feel like community.
Lead photo cutline: Community members preparing their gifts and affirmations for random acts of kindness in the community during Community Living Brant’s fourth annual ABCD Symposium in May.