Diversity in Community

Ewetopia FarmFriday afternoon at the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat featured a field trip to Ewetopia Farm. The Crossmans breed Cotswolds, a rare breed of longwool sheep. Apparently the breed is also known for its friendly temperament. Max Crossman (left) brought out their champion ram, who deeply appreciated having his shoulders scratched by John Wise and myself. The farm had some lovely art yarn for sale. I purchased several skeins as a souvenir of the trip, hopefully to turn into a woven stole.

It has been an exciting and exhausting weekend so far. I took the introductory spinning workshop given by Aaron Bush (in the green shirt). Up until now I have been intimidated and thwarted by the eye-hand coordination involved in learning to spin. Today it started to click in. For about 15 minutes at the end of the workshop I actually fell into a relaxing, enjoyable rhythm. Now daily practice is required to fix it in place.

By the time we departed on our field trip I was ready to let someone else drive. I rolled down the window and enjoyed the picturesque New York countryside.

Joe at Ewetopia FarmJoe Wilcox, who is also participating in the WordCount Blogathon, is here, too. In fact, he has organized these retreats ever since their inception. Joe is an outgoing, upbeat, funny person with remarkable skills to set the stage for an unforgettable social event. He is a community builder. The world needs more like him.

Can you hear my admiration? I value community, but have limited energy for organizing people. I am an introvert. Fortunately community needs many people to fill different roles. The challenge lies in learning to appreciate and value our differences. Extended social interaction can fray my nerves. At times the energy elevates me; at others it makes me feel vulnerable and agitated. I should honour my desire to move apart from time to time, go for a walk in the woods. Honouring one’s own temperament is key to fulfilling a role. I see myself as a kind of storyteller, needing time for reflection.

For you, what is the hardest part of being in community? How do you handle this challenge? What role makes best use of your gifts?

Friday evening we had show and tell. Most of the 41 men attending brought forward samples of their best knitted, woven and crocheted work from the past year. All received appreciative applause. It was marvellous to see such a diversity of creative output. It mirrored our diversity in community.

10 thoughts on “Diversity in Community

  1. Hi Van,

    What a beautiful post from a magical day! I thought about my role in the question you posed above, and I’ll try to answer succinctly. I may appear introverted in social settings, but my gift is to bring out brief, intense discussions one-on-one with individual participants, as I have an incredible ability to listen, and I put people instantly at ease, even when revealing intimate, highly emotionally charged topics. When I need a break from the intensity, I can expand and soften my focus, enjoying the timbre of individual voices in a group, without focusing on what is being said. I really enjoyed our interview, and the time we spent spinning together. You are a very special, dear fellow, and I look forward to having more time for us to be together!

    1. John, it was great meeting and starting to get to know you: the beginning, I think, of a long friendship.

  2. I think my biggest challenge in most communities is working to weave in personalities that don’t fit my ideas about how they should be in a community. I sometimes need to constantly remind myself of certain things…If everyone thought like me it would be as great a community…Everyone contributes to a community in their own way…Welcoming differing energies into a group is easier than resisting them…eventually, I am usually able to reconcile and accept all components.

    Delightful photos and blog entry. Thanks Van.

  3. I’m an ‘extroverted introvert’: I’m good with people but need to retreat to recharge and love my solo time. As such, finding my place in community can be hard, but I seem to be a natural organiser – if there’s something that needs to be organised I’m your girl. Guess I’m just bossy by nature. 😉

    1. Many good leaders are introverts, maybe because their leadership is intentional rather than something that just happens.

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