Beyond Self Sufficiency…. Community

I’ve been talking about Camp Take Notice a lot; talking with friends from the CTN community, talking to my other friends about the CTN community.

Brainstorming “our gifts, talents, and resources” at a CTN nonviolence training not only reminds us all we have to build on, but gives us a chance to listen to one another

Talking and listening.


A  lot.

These conversations along with the recent comments in response to a letter to the editor,  have me thinking me thinking about self sufficiency.

It’s a word that gets tossed around a great deal; both by those who support the camp and by those who have concerns, questions and fears.  Several checks of dictionaries (both on line and the old fashioned book on the shelf) define self sufficiency as “Able to provide for oneself without the help of others; independent” or similarly “the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction, for survival”

Looking at this, I wonder; how many of us are truly self-sufficient? I also find myself wondering if that is even a goal I would want to strive for.

I am grateful to live in an interdependent community of family and friends (as well as kind “strangers”) who help me with rides when my car breaks down, care for my dogs when work keeps me away too long, and so many other ways. I am grateful to be able to give support by way of childcare, a ride to work when my car is working well, or a home cooked meal when someone is ill.

To me, this type of mutual support is far more important and ultimately more healthy and useful than “self sufficiency.” And this is what I see modeled by Camp Take Notice, and other tent communities I have had the chance to spend time in.

I found this sense of mutual support in my early interactions with CTN.  Invited to facilitate nonviolence training at the former CTN home off Wagner road last May, I acknowledged how close I was to homelessness myself come September.

Immediately the question was raised, “what support do you need from us now to not be in that situation in September?”   This was not the uncomfortable “oh,you don’t need to worry about that. Your other friends and I will help” (followed by  a quick change of subject ) that I had heard often before. This was a concrete “what specific things can we do to support you?”

“hassle line” role plays at CTN nonviolence training…. CTN residents and supporters took on roles of those who were angry about the camp, fearful about what they didn’t understand etc. Not only a chance to practice communication, but a chance to “step into another’s shoes” and see where they are coming from

I had the honor of seeing this mutual support in action again as demonstrated by my CTN community.  I was giving a ride to a friend that I’ve gotten to know from my connections to CTN when my car broke down.  Now, I know NOTHING about cars, but when you hear a loud clunk and the wheel looks crooked and no longer turns, you pretty much know it can’t be good.

Living hand to mouth and having just spent a ton of money on the car, my response was pretty much AAA and tears.  Luckily, my resourceful friend believes more in community than simple self-sufficiency, “Your ball joint broke. I think I can fix that.”

It takes a village

It takes a village to fix a ball joint.

While my friend took the wheel off the car, the kind individual whose drive way  I was in called around to find me a part, and gathered his tools. Another Camp Take Notice friend drove completely out of her way to pick up the part and deliver it to us.  Six and ½ hours later, after everything that could go wrong did, my car was once again drivable.  It cost me $20 – the cost of the part.  Because that is what community is about.

Not being self sufficient … i am blessed to have talented friends

I am reminded of a concept taught to me by a friend from South Africa, “ubuntu”, loosely meaning “I am because we are” …. this is what I’m learning from the Camp Take Notice community.  Something, in my opinion better than self sufficiency

(Posted by playfulspirit; AKA Sheri Wander )


3 responses to “Beyond Self Sufficiency…. Community

  1. Sheri this is great and Rev. Jen you should come to the panel on Sunday! Dinner will be served at 6 and the meeting will begin at 7 at the U of M School of Social Work. Hope to see you there. Thanks Sheri for your inspiring words. 🙂

  2. What? Mutual aid / mutual support? Empowering individuals to use their gifts to help their community? Asserting that homeless people are… well people… what kind of crazy group is this? (Sarcasm intended!) What i really want to say is that this post, more than anything else posted yet , in my view, demonstrates the power of tent communities. Community, and helping one are pretty revolutionary ideas! Wish I was still in the area and could come tonight. Hope it goes well.

  3. Great point, Sheri.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s