Being Community after Being Apart

Has there ever been a family, an organization, a community that hasn’t from time to time had a spat, an argument, and all out rip roaring fight? None that I know. What keeps a family, an organization, a community together after these events is knowing that its future depends on laying aside grievances and adopting constructive ways to better address future situations. As the sun slowly rises above our horizon on the morning after the special council to consider the future of the Stay Healthy Main Street initiative, I find myself at the beginning of that end point. Something that began with so much good will and hope ended surrounded by bitterness, nastiness and relationships that may be hard to mend. But mend we must if we are to be the vibrant yet gentle community we believe we are.

A new resident to Town wrote me this week, dismayed by the discord, wondering was this really what they moved to? Like a family fight the best way forward is to talk about it – not beat it to death, not use that talking time to defend your view, but rather to listen, to understand each other, to try to do better, to definitely do different the next time.

Stay Healthy Main Street was undertaken with the sincere wish that Town residents, shut inside their homes for three months, restaurants and personal service businesses forced to shutter their doors, could reopen with quite literally more breathing space. How to do that with our 1800’s road system would surely be a struggle. Discussing all the how’s of this was made all the more difficult by legislated inability to meet in person, loss of key staff in both the business and the Town, and no “how-to” manuals for managing the unanticipated. When the grand experiment was finally ended last evening by a 5 to 2 vote of Council I fully expect there were cheers, there were also tears – perhaps of sadness, perhaps relief, perhaps of the innocence lost in the realization of the level of unkindness of some of our communication with each other.

There will be a debrief I am sure in all our organizations. There will renewed communication protocols for future experiments. As with a family that truly cares about its future and the well being of each member I hope there will emerge a kindness and an understanding. A decision was made last evening but no one won. The winning will come when we collectively commit to walking in each other’s shoes and finding the best way to walk together.

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