…or, why I prefer small villages to anonymous urbanity

Back in the day when communities were small and operated collectively (and in the present day, in places where they still do) people weren’t anonymous. Everyone knew everyone. Jill was Brian’s mother’s sister. Edward was Aurora’s grandson. Scooter was Nero and Anna’s dog until they realized baby Carson was allergic, so they gave him to Uncle Tim.

And everyone knew what everyone else was good at: when people were having babies, they always called Aurora, until she got too frail to help with deliveries. But luckily she had been training Marilyn, who took over and had such a gentle presence. Carl had a way with plants. Arthur could tell stories. Molly could sing. Nina could play the piano and the violin. Alita somehow always knew when it was going to rain. Riley was hilarious and could get anyone out of a bad mood, even his father. Rich made the best stew. And when Gus spoke–which was rare–everyone made sure to listen.

I’m enamored of the idea that communities can get to this place again, with intention: that we can learn what gifts are available among us and develop a sense of when they can be utilized. There are times when gifts are needed: when people are sad, in pain, or going through a rite of passage, or just feeling like it’s a good time for a celebration. There are people whose presence will make a difference, will allow whatever’s happening to be more open, more full — will help open up the moment to whatever it might be waiting and wanting to become.

Some questions:

  • What are your gifts, and in what kinds of situations might they be most needed?
  • Who do you know that has a particular strength or kind of knowledge?
  • How can you help him or her connect with opportunities where these strengths can be offered?
  • What would happen if we had more and more frequent opportunities to be and do what we’re meant to be and do?
  • What would happen in a community where this was intentionally practiced?

thoughts & responses??



(P.S. The original title for this post was “the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker” but then I read the rest of the rhyme and realized it didn’t really apply. 🙂


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