This week's post is by Free Meal's Intern and Better Together Committee Member Shea Daniels
I believe community is perpetuated when the worthiness of individual members is perpetuated. So often in spaces that are not the free meals program, I encounter humans disvaluing other humans and it makes me sad. I encounter humans saying mean things. I encounter poets asking engineers to write poems and engineers asking poets to build rocket ships. OK. Not really. But I do encounter a lot of people who haven’t taken the time to see the gifts and talents of the folks around them, and end up frustrated because the folks around them aren’t meeting some pre-set list of expectations. It’s a matter of worthiness, folks, but it’s also a matter of humanity. Some people are great listeners, some people are great organizers, some people will reliably volunteer to eat the last piece of cake. These are all fabulous skills, worthwhile skills, and skills that, once accessed, impact the entire community in real and positive ways. People thrive when their skills are recognized and accessed.
I also believe in greeting people warmly. I believe in hugging. I believe in waving. I believe in eye contact. I believe in high fives and I believe in grinning when someone walks in the door. Did I mention that I believe in hugging? Fellow humans, everyone everywhere needs to know that their presence is appreciated. That they are valued, that they are missed. Communities thrive when members know their presence matters.
Communities like ours thrive because of our members. We’re radically inclusive. Everyone, literally everyone, is welcome. We’re not big on judgment and we’re not comfortable assigning social worth based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, native language, religion, or ability levels. Our basement is a bit Real-World Exempt and, alas, the Basement Economy is also a bit Real-World Exempt. Because you see, loyal reader, here in UCM’s cellar we don’t really believe in a physical economy, even though we know it exists and we know it is useful. Here in the basement we run on a Spiritual Economy. On a non-tangible economy.
Here in the basement we work not only to provide warm, yummy, nutritious food, but also to create a sense of community. We believe people need food as much as they need community, maybe moreso, and we believe community comes when everyone who walks through our doors is treated as a person of value. As a person of worth.