Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's All About Communities

I've spent a lot of time recently reflecting on what things matter to me. If one were to read this blog, one might think that diabetes means a lot to me, and true enough, it does. I think that as we read the many amazing blogs written by amazing people, many of which can be accessed through the #DBlogWeek hashtag on Twitter (or join in the blogging fun yourself), one can easily get this impression. 

Recently there has been a loss in our lives, and this sad event has led me to reflect on what really matters. For me, first and foremost, it's family (and yes, I include my fur family as well). It's about friends. And it's about community.

This post is about community. And there are many kinds of community, but it all comes down to taking care. 

Our neighbourhood community is a place where people come together to raise their children, a comfortable place to come home to after a long day's work. After watching some bored kids last summer, I built a Little Free Library which now sits at the edge of our yard. To this point, it took a community of believers - business people in our area - who helped make this happen in the first place. Because I reached out, they donated the box, some books, and effort, because I do not have building skills!

But now I've seen neighbours visit from blocks around, to 'borrow' books. I've met many new people, and the LFL has become a conversation starter of sorts. People visit and might drop off a book or two (or an entire Danielle Steel collection!) for others to enjoy. I've seen little kids come by, bookbags in hand, with a mom or a dad. Older kids excitedly show their other friends. In only a few months, this little box is now a touchstone in our neighbourhood, where kids and adults come together to discover (and rediscover) the love of reading. 

If you have found this blog post, you are likely already familiar with the Diabetes Online Community (otherwise known as the DOC), and it is important to me because when I have questions, want to vent, or need support, the DOC has been there for me.

It is a virtual place - a social media phenomenon, but not in any one place. On Twitter you can find it by searching hashtags like #DOC or #dsma, but there are many more (just ask if you want to know more). There are diabetes community websites (like TuDiabetes or Glu), and blogs like DiabetesMine sharing experiences and information. It is made up of many people from different backgrounds, divergent interests and many countries come together to ask questions, support each other, share information, raise awareness, advocate, laugh at some things, and offer a kind shoulder to those who are hurting.  

We should be aware though, that our communities need care. As much as they are a way to come together and a uniting force, they can be divided. 

Just last week, I had come home to my Little Free Library to find that somebody had launched a rock through its little window. Instead of being disheartened by the disrespect (well, I was for just a moment), I cleaned up, took the opportunity to re-organize the books. I also discovered what one can do with a large Ziploc bag and some packing tape to repair it to it's almost former glory. It's back in business, and when I get to the hardware store again, I will be able to retire its Ziploc. 

When we deal with people - as with the DOC - as much as social media encourages talking, we also need to remember to take a moment, step back, and just listen. Over the past year, I've made the mistake of not listening, and have lost a friend. We need to keep our minds open to other viewpoints, an eye out for those struggling, and especially for those who may be feeling lost or abandoned. Sometimes it is a lone voice - a single tweet. We should remember to reach out with a kind word.

Also we need to remember that as a group, we are quite a force to be reckoned with. Our collective voices have power, and we've certainly been noticed in certain circles. We can harness this force for the good, and I hope we continue to do so. But we cannot forget the smaller voices out there. 

One day, long ago, I was that small voice, and now I'm part of a community that is larger than me. I'm proud to be part of it, but it always need to be looked after.

Just like that Little Free Library on our front lawn.

The Little Free Library opens for business!

This is my submission for Change the World - #DBlogWeek Day 1. Although I don't expect to change the world, but if I can just reach out to a person or two along the way, I will have succeeded. 


  1. I've never had a story melt my heart quite like that of the Little Free Library. Books...innocence...generosity...purpose...community. We don't have enough emphasis on these things much anymore. I'm glad you told us about this, and made it a reality in your own community.