Building Community vs Community Buildings

Above is a picture of the community centre, quite thrashed. I don't know which is more disturbing - that someone smashed all those windows, or that more than a week later they sit unrepaired. There are obviously problems of several sorts here. Maybe I should leave it at that, adding only that, having closed up the unfruitful Reading Room, I'm setting up shop in another building nearby.

Of course, some work happens with no buildings at all. Or, rather, with a different kind of building. In our work, we build positive relationships.

Well, of course we do. Everyone does, right? It's a given.

But, no, it's not a given. Doing it takes care and hard work and trust. And, at the risk of sounding all Yoda, it is something you do or not do - talking about it, writing about it, putting it in your mission statement are all beside the point.

It's about trust. Service and trust.

We caught up with our curbside adult learner (story here) the other day during our bookwagon run. She traded in the PRACE books and some other resources for five books from the Grass Roots Press series of biographies. I offered her ones I thought she might find familiar or interesting. I saw that I was missing Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, the two books that I've had the best response to (in part because of the familiarity of the over-all history and theme).

It occurred to me that I don't really know this lady's reading level, and so I'm operating in the dark, a little forced to trust her self assessment.

Is she making progress? I don't know. Does that matter? Or, better, Is it any of my business?

I can ask if she's like to be tested - that's the word, "tested" and not "assessed" - just so she knows that is an option. Maybe in a couple of weeks. But I can't impose it on her. I can't take the initiative and responsibility away from her. That would be....

Well, it would be a lousy thing to do, is all. And it wouldn't be building relationship.

Later that day we got hailed down by a past reader looking for a copy of Twilight. We carried the enticingly named Adult & Youth 12+ book-box over, leaving the wagon unattended. Some children gathered about it, scooting away when we returned; hiding, badly, behind a car.

"Hey! Did you guys want to borrow a book?" Cheryl asked.

Silly question. Of course they did. Who wouldn't want to borrow a book on a fine, sunny Saturday morning?

Some Saturdays are like that. Yes, funding is disappearing or being diverted. Yes, the testing and streaming craze is making us all a little crazy. Yes, business groups parachuting staff into communities are stomping about making as many enemies as friends. (They have the windows to prove it.)

But, meanwhile, adults are improving their literacy levels in gentle, non-threatening ways, and children are happily moving classics like Where's Spot? from our wagon...

... to theirs.

Have a great day! :)

No comments: