What do you do when you are new in town and don’t know anyone? You still value your old friends but realistically the convenience of spending time with someone when there is no significant commute time and no traffic to fight to get to them really does make a difference. So, maybe you have, as did Tara Flannery, make a significant effort to reach out to people. She has lived in Lake Stevens for four years since moving from Seattle. During her first two years here she didn’t put any effort into making connections and she had no local friends. She wanted to change that and made a conscious choice to actively reach out to other moms, to look for people with similar interests, to invite people over to her home and this resulted in only one friend that she met through their kids. So then, she decided to step it up and get serious about finding local friends. She searched online for Lake Stevens groups. None that she found were a good fit for her until she ran across a group called Being Neighborly: Lake Stevens (BeNe: LS) which sounded exactly what she was looking for.
She joined and it was perfect. And it was true to its name. Posts were consistently positive and not only encouraged connections but offered lots of different things to do together. She now has a bunch of true, solid local friends along with a long list of acquaintances.
She was elated and posted a lot at first. This seemed like the perfect group to work with to create a mobile garden using an old boat filled with dirt that was moved from home to home. This mobile community garden idea bit the dust when the reality of hauling a boat filled with heavy wet dirt became too much to overcome. But, her desire to participate in community gardening blossomed into what we have today. Tara hosts our monthly Produce Festivals and plays a big part in the creation of our first Garden Share site.
Tara could easily be considered a visionary person with an interest in engineering and with some good technical skills. She also chooses to invest her time in things that will help people and are appreciated. So, she brought her discovery of the power of a 3D printer to her friends and neighbors at our Creativity Cafés and Repair Cafés where she helps people with a wide range of interests and needs.
And due to the strong sense of community she experienced at Being Neighborly, she felt supported enough to develop the design for connectors for an extremely low-cost geodesic dome which can be used as a greenhouse, chicken coops, storage, housing and many other uses. She knew that she didn’t have to do everything all by herself. Lots of BeNe people are getting these connectors printed on our BeNe 3D printer for their personal use. She explains that if she felt that she needed to do everything all by herself, it would have not felt possible. But she was supported and that made it possible. In fact, in the BeNe spirit of giving and sharing, she offered her design on a site where almost 2,000 people have looked at it. She has received grateful messages from many people who are now using her design. One is a student who was overwhelmed with housing expenses and is now living in his dome in his friend’s back yard. Another is a woman in Utah who needed a low-cost way to do year-round gardening. And there are more. Another of Tara’s friends has a 3D printer and has offered to also help with the printing. Sharing and helping is contagious! If the supportive, “it takes a village” culture didn’t exist, none of this would have happened. None of the Lake Stevens people and none of all the non-local people benefiting from these efforts would have this help. The value of our sharing and help goes way beyond our awareness.
Tara also sees the quieter, less visible value of the BeNe culture. There are a lot of people who have social anxiety and for them it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to give and / or receive support. But with BeNe, people can get to know others slowly over time. Our daily Just For Fun posts and the sharing in chatrooms makes it possible for those folks to find kindred spirits and feel part of something that might otherwise be difficult or unavailable. Without this, lots of folks would feel isolated and depressed which isn’t fun for anyone.
Tara has personally witnessed that what happens within the culture of BeNe inspires waves of positive feelings and actions. It provides the foundation for purposeful living. It helps people find meaningful connections and significant opportunities for doing inspiring things. No one person has all the skills or resources needed for most things, but as a group, we do! Experiencing this can change our feelings about life, about others and ourselves.
Lake Stevens, WA