While we all have deficiencies and problems, some of our neighbors get labeled by their deficiencies or condition. They are given names like mentally ill, physically disabled, developmentally disabled, youth-at-risk, single mom, welfare recipient, cranky, loner, trailer court person, immigrant, low income.
All of these people have gifts we need for a really strong community. And many of them desperately need to be asked to join and contribute. Their only real deficiency is the lack of connection to the rest of us. And our greatest community weakness is the fact that we haven’t seen them and felt their loneliness. We have often ignored or even feared them. And yet their gifts are our greatest undiscovered treasure!
Therefore, the Connectors’ Table needs to pay special attention to the people at the edge, the people with the names that describe their empty half rather than their gifted full half. The connectors are motivated by the fact that historically, every great local community has engaged the talents of every single member. For the strength of our neighborhood is greatest when we all give all our gifts.
This means that the key words for our community are invitation,participation, and connection. We each need to become great inviters, like a host or hostess, opening the door to our community life. Our goal will be to have everyone participating, giving and receiving gifts. And our method will be connection—introducing the newly discovered gifts to the other neighbors and associations.
Take a piece of paper and write the words: invitation, participation and connection. Now reread the initial list of neighbors often overlooked in our community and organizations. Can you list one person whom you could invite into a social group or association? Can you find one person who might welcome the invitation to participate more deeply in your neighborhood or work? And can you think of one individual who you might offer a new network, or relational connection to, for whom this would then open other possibilities?
McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (p. 138). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.