by Fanny Ployart, a volunteer visiting from France
“Hello!” waved a happy face,
“Welcome here!” smiled a peaceful mind,
“Grab a rake and join us!” sang another one.
It all took 10 seconds, and in those 10 seconds, everything was there: Welcome, Energy, Trust, Connection… Community!
It was on a random Sunday Parkways. City Repair had organized a permaculture work party in a beautiful shared house of NE Portland. Over there, a team was actively building some garden beds, cleaning the front yard from dry tree branches or explaining the project to pedestrians passing by… doing all of this while some lazy goats and funny chickens were having a sunbath in the back!
So, what do you think happened next? Well… I took a rake and joined the happy faces! … Obviously!
We sometimes experience moments where everything suddenly makes sense. Everything is easy, and coherent; everything is here, and now; as if we just woke up in the clear reality. Those moments are so subtle, and so powerful at the same time. It’s even hard to put words on them as all is about living them… and eventually smiling with shining eyes!
It is difficult to explain this feeling, but I am going to try to clarify it, because this intense sensation of fulfillment did not happen just this Sunday afternoon, it kept on happening again and again, each time I would meet City Repair family 😊
So, what happens in those moments that make them so precious? So obvious? So complete?
It’s like nothing is missing. And it’s not about contemplation nor idealistic pleasure; there I started by grabbing garbage on the floor, dust was coming into my eyes, I fell on an uneven floor while sweeping branches… but whatever that was happening, I was at my place, in charge of doing one part of a whole I was supporting. In those moments, it just feels right and empowering. Yes, empowering…
After the work party, I got on board right away, working on fundraising for the exciting T-Crab project. (The T-Crab is an innovative bike-cart, that creates new convivial spaces for people to gather, grow and build learning from each other.) Once a week, I would meet the other volunteers to share the on-going works, listen to others’ opinions, bring new ideas...
Those moments were golden! They gathered passionate people; The volunteers, employees, founders… we were all part of the same boat, putting ideas into actions to have a concrete impact on community empowerment. People were coming from different parts of the world (USA, Asia, Europe) sharing permaculture values, thriving for the same goals on a local scale: the change started right here around us. The projects we were working on, were amazingly inspiring! Bringing people together through art and permaculture was nature-ally beautiful. Building those projects brought motivating discussions between us: How do we empower communities in the long run? How do we avoid creating dependence but instead cultivate innovation? What are the key factors to make changes happen? Step by step, we built actions, as a team, by empowering each one of us, by understanding and meeting people on the ground, and naturally empowering them.
I discovered that City Repair is not only about projects; it’s a whole philosophy of doing! It promotes its values at every level. City Repair believes in each one of us; From the first moment that I met Ridhi, I felt I had something to bring. No matter how long I had been around, I was powerful! Trust is the foundation of the organization and it works… from the very first 10 seconds! And from trust comes responsibility, and from there empowerment and changes!
City Repair is not about theories, it’s about actions. It doesn’t make plans out of a magic hat, it builds bottom-up! If we want to build a community, then let’s start with human connections… with us and them together, let’s trust people, share ideas, build simple actions, little by little, and keep the vision!
It is easy to pass over those first steps of living, to plan before feeling, and to forget this subtlety, this authenticity that makes our heart beat, in only 10 seconds… So now I am asking you, how many 10 seconds do you have in your life? How would it be like, if we remembered to connect every 10 seconds? 😊
City Repair… Thank you for this lesson of life. You are one of the most mind-blowing adventures of my year of travelling!