Monday, July 28, 2008

It Takes A Village

First off, here is your daily dose of cuteness. Here are Imogen and her much-beloved kittens (Ismene on the left and Antigone on the right).

This weekend we attended a fence-building work party at our friends Sally and Denny's house. The work party was part of a group we call the Barn Raising Collective. The Collective was started back in 2000 as a group of four households who participated in monthly work parties at each other's houses. We were all new home owners, and we all needed help with numerous projects. It's amazing how an overwhelming task from your to-do list can turn into a fun event that gets knocked out in a few hours when you have a group of friends helping you out.

The Barn Raising Collective has gone through several incarnations in the past eight years, and it now is a group of 18 households. We have work parties as they are needed, and folks attend the work parties that they can, thereby earning points to host their own work parties. The Collective has been a fabulous experiment in the power of community. We'll be having a work party of our own in the fall to take down the enormous arborvitae hedge in our backyard and put up a fence instead, so stay tuned!

Here are some pictures from yesterday's work party. Elliot and Imogen came to hang out in the afternoon (Papa took them for the morning so I could attend the work party - I love fence raising!). The kids had a great time with Sally and Denny's kiddos, Wren and Violet.

There was a delicious mid-day meal of grilled chicken and watermelon (Violet really rivals Imogen for cutest girl on the planet, doesn't she?).

Imogen had her first ride on Papa's shoulders.

And here is a photo I like to call "Mattgate".

And here is the crew at the end of a successful afternoon work party.

I must remember to be thankful daily for the wonderful friends and community we have here in Portland. Once in awhile, some of us talk longingly about buying a huge property out in the woods somewhere someday and building houses for each other all over it. Many days, I think the Amish have it right, and so does Hillary Clinton - it takes a village. We need the help of our friends, family, and other parents to build strong communities and raise our children. The Barn Raising Collective (which inspired a satellite group among our friends in Seattle) is just one step. So let me hear from you - what is the importance of community in your lives? How do you create it for yourselves? What would we do without it?

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