Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creative cooperation

Isn't this the coolest set of mailboxes you ever saw? I LOVE the creativity of it, and wish we could do something like this in our neighborhood -- but of course, one of the things that makes it possible for these folks is that they are a family. Presumably that means they get together with some frequency, which makes it easier to come up with creative solutions like this one.

One of the things I love about the concept of Ubuntu is the idea that community can be family, too; that strangers are also part of your family. When I first read that, I saw it more as a call to compassion, or to the golden rule: treat others as you would have them treat you.

But looking at this image I see how wonderful it could be if we took that further; if we as communities could get together more regularly, as families do, without agendas but just to chat and brainstorm, to explore creative solutions to simple problems. What if we could look at our resources (in this case, they obviously had an old family car) and our strengths (obviously someone in the family had a way to cut metal) and be willing to sacrifice an old way of being or seeing in order to meet a more current need?

Surely someone in the family objected; wanted to keep driving this old beauty, or to restore her to her original state. But clearly that person was willing to compromise. Surely someone in the family thought the old mailbox stands were perfectly adequate, but was willing to try something new. And how wonderful that everyone agreed to take pride in the family name, to rejoice in what they shared and to share it wholeheartedly?

In these challenging economic times, communities and people everywhere are being encouraged to share, to offer up their own particular resources and strengths, to sacrifice an old way of being or seeing to meet a more current need. And I'm betting the more successful communities work that way because they have a unique quality, a sort of shared quirkiness -- and an acceptance of that -- a sense of pride in who they are and what they have accomplished together, and a willingness to approach their challenges creatively, and together.

My only question is, how do we build communities like that? Because it looks to me like my street works that way -- though we haven't gone so far as to get creative about our mailboxes -- but my city sure doesn't.


Maureen said...

What a fantastic re-use of an old car that now may be seeing its best day, simply because it has found new life for mailboxes.

I often wonder if creativity is not stifled by the rules we impose on ourselves, for example, via our HOAs, which dictate the colors of our homes or how long we can leave out our trash cans. So much energy goes into pointing the "don't do" finger.

Yet, I also see the energy that a Greg Mortenson can harnass in Afghanistan to build schools for your girls. . . .just one example, I think, of what community means, of what community can accomplish.

The power of Ubuntu, I think, is in the believing and the doing, even when the "don't do" fingers wag.

Name: Roberta said...

Love this photo, and the idea of it, and your sharing too!!