Last week′s challenge is known as “Head, Hands, Heart” among many who follow Asset-Based Community Development. The idea is that every person has something to offer, to “gift” to those around him…to his neighbors. I did this activity a few months ago, and it was strange how difficult it seemed. When faced with writing down the things I know about, the things I can do, and that I care about…”Eeeeek.” (And this seemed to be the general consensus in the room.) So, if you passed on this challenge, take a few minutes and put yourself out there. Here’s my list:
What does this have to do with getting to know your neighbors? I had an opportunity to hear Peter Block speak recently, and he noted that we live in a culture that identifies people by their deficiencies and not by their gifts. I have lived in places where I referred to my neighbors this way, “The ones that play Rock Band at midnight.” “The ones that never make eye contact.” “The ones with the dog that won’t shut up!” What if I had gotten to know those neighbors, their dreams. What if I had gotten to know their head, hands, and heart?
Last week, one of my neighbors let me know that if we ever needed pants hemmed, or something mended she would be happy to help. She also asked me if I play the piano, because she would like to learn…it’s a dream of hers. Another neighbor offered to identify the plants growing in our yard. After doing this exercise, I also know what I can share. I’m excited to learn more about the people I meet, and find out where our interests and passions intersect. Learning names is a great start, but it certainly isn’t the end. I’m looking for common ground.
Week # 4
Question: Do you know your neighbors by their deficiencies or their gifts?
Challenge: Talk to one neighbor about what they know about, what they can do, and/or what they care about.
The Neighbor Challenge series re-posted by arrangement with the Communities First Association, a professional association of Christian community developers that provides a supportive learning environment, resources, and tools to those who transform communities. Home page photo: Sebastian Anthony