As often as I can, I like to ride my bike from my home in Jamaica Plain in a loop that stretches to the Museum of Science. Whether I ride past the bleary eyed commuters crowding into the Starbucks in Brookline village or take a different path filled with late students rushing to classes on the Wheelock Campus, or take a short cut through the court yard at BU’s Marsh Chapel where the air is filled with angelic voices from some choral rehearsal, my rides always reward me with intimate access to the many spirited communities that make Boston so special. Community is such a rich word, full of texture and depth– from its geographical definition, to a group of people with common interests and goals to the more sacred idea of “seeking together.” While those concepts might seem dated in a culture where creating community more often means driving traffic to your website, they still have tremendous value. In these rapidly changing times, there are far too many messages that leave us feeling isolated and fearful. Anything positive that brings us together, if only for a little while, is a good idea.
The four stories we are preparing for the next Better Living show on October 10th at 7:30 p.m. on WCVB-TV look at how communities are being formed to improve the future of Cambodian teenagers in Lynn, help Charlestown children control their sugar intake and empower Dorchester moms to fight depression.
I have met some pretty amazing people while working on these stories including Tino, an 18 year old former gang banger who was surprised in the discovery of his own leadership abilities and Steve, a gifted Matt Damon look-alike community worker in Charlestown who teases and cajoles kids into healthier eating habits.
All of the people in these stories have come together to form unlikely little communities, bound in their commitment to healthier living…better living.
In this “us against them” “winner take all” individualistic culture in which we live, it is easy to forget the human experience is by nature relational. We all need communities, for support, understanding and acceptance. When we are bound by common needs and goals, we are strengthened and able to see all kinds of possibilities that we might miss on our own.
They say some of the most powerful groups form in emergencies, when facing catastrophic realities like the World Trade Tower survivors on September 11th, 2001. I would suggest that in many ways, that is exactly what we are facing now, in the epidemics of violence, obesity and depression…hopelessness. These crises might not directly impact you but they do affect you indirectly. They affect us all.
The Better Living show on October 10 offers a few tiny slivers of light that may show us a new path to each other.
Join us and please continue to join me here as I share my thoughts on better living with you.
P.S. To watch a preview video of the next Better Living click here.