Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Building Community

The Sharon Pluralism Network (SPN) held an event last weekend called a Community Speak-out. The mission of SPN is “to create a positive and sustainable culture of pluralism in the town of Sharon. SPN envisions a community where people from diverse groups: live together in peace and mutual respect; feel safe and valued; retain their group identity while also being part of a larger community; learn about, interact with, and stand up for each other; and work collaboratively with the community at large for the common good.” 

“Where do I sign up?” I asked.

Approximately 60 adults from Sharon and surrounding communities attended the Speak-out which was held at the Sharon High School library. SPN’s Executive Director, Beth Hoke, along with several co-facilitators, led the group in activities to promote understanding, and explore our differences and similarities. 

I attended the event wanting to meet more people in my community and to perhaps talk about the “community cafe” idea. 

The whole group did some ice breaker exercises, then we were separated into smaller “villages”. We introduced ourselves and shared our experiences of living and/or working in Sharon. My village was blessed with a member who was born and raised in Sharon who now works on the police force. He gave us an interesting perspective on how the community has changed since the 1970s when he was growing up here. Back then the divide was perhaps more along economic lines, not so much ethnic or religious ones. We also had three Muslim members who shared how safe they feel here and how they were welcomed. I had to admit to myself that I took safety for granted when my family considered moving here. One participant brought up the challenge of welcoming a person whose cultural traditions might not mesh well with ours. We also talked about wanting more ways to interact with diverse people in our town, people we may not worship with, or whose children don’t go to our children’s school. How does one meet up with other adults if one is not a member of a religious community, nor has school-aged children? We have the town library, which is great, and the Adult Center, which has numerous events open to all adults in town, not just the elderly. And yet, we wondered if there could be something more?



BOOK GIVEAWAY 
Everyone who subscribes to this blog will be entered into a drawing. For what, you ask? We will be giving away a copy of Owning Our Future by Marjorie Kelly and one copy of Locavesting by Amy Cortese. Both of these books inspired the worker-owned cooperative “community cafe” idea. So please sign up in the box on the right before February 28th to be entered. (Don’t worry, we won’t share your address with anyone else!) 

What’s the significance of February 28th? It just so happens that is when we are holding a screening of a documentary. Read on!

SHIFT CHANGE FILM SCREENING
Join us on Friday, February 28 for a screening of the documentary Shift Change at the Unitarian Church of Sharon (UCS), 4 N. Main Street, at 7pm, followed by a discussion. This film focuses on employee-owned businesses in the US, including Equal Exchange in West Bridgewater, and Mondragon, Spain. Why should you care about employee-owned businesses? They offer an alternative to “business as usual” in which few people share the profits. We believe it takes “locally owned” much further. We’re still educating ourselves on the subject, and we invite you to join us! The screening is sponsored by the Social Justice Committee of UCS, for which we are so grateful. Hope to see you there!

Do you have comments, suggestions, ideas relating to a "Sharon Community Cafe"? Let us hear from you by filling out the form below.

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