Jan. 14, 2009 at 1:11pm
Now is the time for us to work together
For the last three weeks Iíve been job hunting and looking for opportunities to use my skills to help others. I just realized that I was undermining my search by carrying in the back of my head the false belief that my chosen profession, though thoroughly fulfilling for me, might be somewhat frivolous. I was concerned that my services may be a luxury that society canít afford right now. I was imagining that the first thing to go when purse strings tighten is things like parties and festivals. Today I had an ďAh haĒ moment about this assumption that made me even more sure that what Iím doing is important.
I was heart-sick to be sitting in the waiting room at DSHS this morning. I was mortified when they called my name aloud. I was mentally kicking myself for getting to the point where I had to go to the state for help with my bills and medical expenses. There was a pity party going on in full effect in my head.
As I went from department to department doing the assessments and answering questions about my work history, employment goals and my financial situation I looked around at the other people there who were doing the same thing I was. They were all normal, seemingly hardworking and capable people. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to round up these people and have their help with a community festival. I was sure they would be uplifted by the experience.
While waiting there in a mini-classroom with several of my piers I overheard a conversation about the economy and what got us to this point. During this conversation it dawned on me that a sense of community is so important right now. People feel cut off from each other and from decision makers. They are searching for answers to questions they are afraid to ask. They are trying to find where they belong in society. They feel worthless.
In my experience, itís these conversations that lead us to opportunities, and they only happen when you bring people together in a safe environment. Sometimes you have to talk to people outside your immediate circle in order to learn about opportunities you donít already know about. Sometimes you find your true self by exploring what other people are thinking about and doing. And in the bigger picture, this is where we discuss the state of affairs in the world AND in our neighborhoods and find the bigger solutions together.
Events like 100th Monkey and Love Tacoma, for example, have the well publicized goal of creating an atmosphere where people are encouraged to talk to strangers. Itís networking in the least scary form Ė a party!
Connect the dots
Personally, my favorite pastime is dot connecting. I love it when someone tells me about a problem or goal they have and I immediately think of someone who can help. Tacoma is full of dot connectors and people who are looking for dots.
When I plan an event or a festival, itís an exercise in dot connecting with the planning committee, the volunteers, the sponsors, the vendors and the attendees. What I love to do is create scenarios where people meet each other, work together and usually advance whatever their personal or business goals are in the process.
Glassroots Festival aimed to help local artists by allowed them to display and sell their art without having to pay vendor fees. Point Defiance Music Fest helped the local music community: over 30 musicians were paid to perform while simultaneously building their fan bases and selling their CDs. Tacoma Winterfest aimed to boost the local economy by allowing independent businesses to sell holiday gifts in a one-stop-shop environment.
After each of these festivals I heard accounts from people who made connections with other people that they carried forward with in a number of ways after it was all over.
Looking at event planning from this standpoint, it seems almost like a higher calling. It seems like exactly what we need in the current financial climate. This is the time for us to come together and see what manifests.
I now see my morning exercise in humility as exactly where I was supposed to be both for the temporary hand-up I needed and for the eye opening epiphany it inspired. Iím hoping the wonderful people working at the DSHS office that I met today will be able to help me find funding for the event management training and the fundraising training I hope to acquire in the coming months. I also hope they will help me keep the bill collector away and the lights on for a little while longer while I seek out and connect with my next dot.
comments  | posted under economy, festival, job, Tacoma, unemploymentComments
by Dmitri on 1/14/2009 @ 7:03pm
|Keep on keepin' on. It is, indeed, about community.|