The first session of the Intentional Neighbourhood Start-up series began with a prompt rooted in my own intense frustration and fatigue regarding the Pandemic and the thought of another Covid Winter. The participants were asked to consider this question , hypothetically.
“What will support our sanity, our survival and perhaps even flourishing during yet another season of covid? What could you contribute to a common survival kit? What experiences could you create for yourself and others? ”
The first offering made our mouths water – a meal would be cooked such that it could be picked up and taken home for dinner. The meal would then be cooked on a second occassion on Zoom so that people could learn how to make it for themselves at home.
Following a good meal came the offering of cross-country skiing by someone who loves cross country skiing and can do it well.
The offers continued with yoga sessions, a book club, playing games that connect and a discussion group specifically about those usually taboo subjects religion and politics. Alongside these offerings was an introduction to wine tasting.
By the time we had finished the conversation everybody was feeling nourished and connected even though it only happened in our imaginations.
I was reminded again of one of the pivotal stories at the heart of Intentional Neighbourhoods. The Stone Soup story is of a stranger coming into a village with only a stone which he claims makes the best soup. By virtue of invitation, the stranger is able to entice the villagers to step out from behind their closed doors and shuttered windows and bring things to a common pot. Some come with spices, others with onions and garlic, veggies and chicken. In the end a soup is made that’s worthy of a feast. Not only did the people find their bellies full, but their hearts are full from the connections with their neighbours; from eyes meeting eyes, smiles meeting smiles and the completion of a shared endeavour that blessed them all.
So as it happened and without intention on my part; we had, during that first session, an experience of Intentional Neighbourhood even on Zoom and even as we were meeting each other for the first time. We had the experience of being consoled and enlivened by the sharing of gifts, virtually, with strangers we were meeting in the Zoom room.
I share this story by way of invitation. As we face continued isolation and more barriers to being together in person, I invite you to think about joining the journey to an Intentional Neighbourhood in Calgary and Medicine Hat or some other place.
The journey itself will be an experience of Intentional Neighbourhood and will feed the part of you hungry for knowing that you are part of a bigger story.