Celebrating Community – Neighborhood Warriors!
Years ago, I read a magazine article about a mom’s group that got sick of doing “playdates” where everyone sat around and just watched the kids. Kids are so often the focus of attention that sometimes they lose perspective of the bigger picture. So this group of moms created “quiting-dates” instead, where the point of the group was a community project and the kids became peripheral. They could participate or play as their interests and ages dictated.
I don’t quilt, but the idea of this article really struck me. How could we teach our children to connect to community and families in a proactive way? How could we make the kids a part of our larger community?
Warriors is a group of families who get together to do projects at each others homes, we combine skills, resources and elbow grease and as a result have become great friends as well as neighbors. The kids help work on projects and play and run a muck but they see parents working together as a group, solving problems and making plans as a cooperative community.
We started with just 2 or 3 families, and now have 10. We have done everything from demolish a kitchen pre-renovation to plumbing to painting to building the greenhouse in my back yard (pictures are from this project.
In our eclectic little family we have licensed architects, folks like my hubby who are very handy, and some with no skills at all. It doesn’t matter. We all work together and it’s social as well as productive and everyone has fun. We get a lot done that would either never happen or would cost a lot of money if we had to do it alone. We have created, in the suburbs of DC, an urban barn raising that happens every month. 10 months/10 families, each month at a different home. If folks are busy and can’t come, we reschedule or sometimes have an event that some people miss. It’s low stress but high commitment and it’s come to be my favorite weekend of the month.
I’ve gotten to know my neighbors through something that started with an idea and a “hey, would you be interested in” to folks I liked who had kids around the same age.” These people have become my friends, my family, my source of community and strength. There is literally nothing I wouldn’t do for the people in this group. They have been my saving grace as I’ve struggled with illness over the past year, offering their time and love unconditionally.
As a group we have come to celebrate together, having parties regularly. Sometimes even just spur of the moment get togethers on other days or after a hard day of projecting. One of our friends brews his own bear and we regularly end up there. The kids have come to look forward to warriors, both as a way to see their friends, but they also look forward to working with us. As a way of life, warriors has been a huge success.
If you’re interested in starting a warriors group of your own it’s actually really easy. All you need is a calendar, an email address or a phone and the commitment to make it work. Then you start inviting people. It will take time to get it up and running, and sometimes you have to smack people on the nose with a newspaper until they get with the program. We have been doing this for 6 years now and our little group has ebbed and flowed. But we will always be family.
It’s a remarkable thing to watch your children grow up with a real community, to give more than they take and to focus on what we’re doing more than what we’re getting. This is only one small group in a huge world, but the lessons we’ve learned from it will stay with our kids for the rest of their lives and hopefully, will guide them to being the amazing little people I know they can be. I’m so grateful for the people in my life, for the community we have created, consciously and deliberately. Thank you.