Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Building Community

Shepherdstown is a unique community.  It is different than any other place I have ever lived, and I've lived in over 20 cities and towns in 9 different states and 2 different countries.  We moved to Shepherdstown nearly 7 years ago and I must say honestly that I was a bit hesitant.  Unable to find a job in my field as a non-game wildlife research biologist/ecologist, I had to think fast and start over. I started my new venture as a small business owner, learning how to sandblast stone and glass, making jewelry at home, selling my creations online, in shops and at arts and craft shows and festivals. I take great pride and joy in working with local shop owners, and show promoters, and meeting interested locals and tourists. Never before until we moved here, have I ever really involved myself with a community, or community events. Becoming a part of the Shepherdstown community has enriched my life in many ways.  I have come to know my neighbors, our hard-working postal employees, many shop and restaurant owners, some police officers, bartenders, students, artists, musicians, folks who work for the media, folks who work for the town, community organizers, movers and shakers, dreamers, activists, and others who care about this town as much as I do...if not more.  

I feel lucky that the opportunity to help co-coordinate the Shepherdstown Community Club Christmas Bazaar and the 1st Weekend Handmade Market was presented to me.  I adore working with co-coordinator Susan, and with Tom, Austin, Don, Marit and all the other wonderful SCC folks. I am thrilled to be able to contribute my time and energy into building something for this community that locals and tourists enjoy, that helps bring feet to the streets of downtown Shepherdstown, that helps energizes the local economy, that helps boost small businesses.  While reflecting on all of this yesterday, I happened to come across this inspirational poster by Karen Kerney © 1998, that has been making the rounds on Facebook and I was compelled to share this with you. I love how some of the buildings in the artwork resemble some buildings in downtown Shepherdstown.  

How To Build Community Text:
Turn off your TV * Leave your house * Know your neighbors * Look up when you are walking * Greet people * Sit on your stoop * Plant flowers * Use your library * Play together * Buy from local merchants * Share what you have * Help a lost dog *
Take children to the park * Garden together * Support neighborhood schools * Fix it even if you didn't break it * Have pot lucks * Honor elders * Pick up litter * Read stories aloud *
Dance in the street * Talk to the mail carrier * Listen to the birds * Put up a swing * Help carry something heavy * Barter for your goods * Start a tradition * Ask a question * Hire young people for odd jobs * Organize a block party * Bake extra and share * Ask for help when you need it * Open your shades * Sing together * Share your skills * Take back the night * Turn up the music * Turn down the music * Listen before you react to anger *  Mediate a conflict * Seek to understand * Learn from new and uncomfortable angles * Know that no one is silent, though many are not heard * Work to change this

We hope you can find time to visit downtown Shepherdstown, walk the streets, take in the history, enjoy a coffee, browse the shops, visit James Rumsey Memorial Park and take in the scenery of the Potomac and C&O Canal, have some lunch, talk to the locals. stop by the Visitor Center and Museum, see the Little House, find some art, purchase some local produce, learn something new, and enjoy the day.

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