Communities Need Love, Too

February 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Over the past few weeks, with St. Valentine’s Day being celebrated in February, people around the world have focused on love and how to express it.

For me, after being married for almost 26 years, I’ve come to know that love in a relationship is something that is nurtured by both people involved. It continues to evolve and you see it illustrated in different ways, physically, through gestures or words.

Does love extend beyond individuals to larger groups of people, to communities? Do people have a relationship with the place they live?

I think so. It gives me goose bumps every time I hear of someone performing a random act of kindness. It brings tears to my eyes when I see someone recognizing they can make a difference to those around them.

Jody Kettyle is someone who realized she could do her own part to make Grande Prairie a better place by focusing on the good news – which there is plenty of – that doesn’t make headlines.

She started the Kinder Gentle Side of Grande Prairie Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/groups/334373066581266/

It has 360 members as I write. I’ve included some of the entries below. But first, I thought I would share a bit of Jody’s story.

Like me, Jody has lived in Grande Prairie twice. My job as Manager of Marketing and Communications with the City involves promoting the municipality and the community. In her job as a delivery driver, she sees and hears of negative things that can and do happen anywhere. She wanted to create a forum for people to celebrate what’s good here.

“There are a lot of wonderful things that happen in this city, but unfortunately happy, good things don’t sell papers,” she told me. “I came home on my birthday and saw the wonderful greetings people had put on my Facebook wall, and I was feeling the love. I wanted to share that feeling with as many people as I could so I started the group on January 5th. Someone told me once to be the change I wanted to see. I have wanted to do something like this for a very long time. I am so happy to live in this city and even more so now that I feel the emphasis is definitely shifting to the more loving, caring side of humanity.”

Jody wishes there could be a good news channel staffed with reporters who circulate through the community looking for the wonderful things people are doing.

“I guess I am a bit of a dork and a dreamer but it won’t stop me from believing we should celebrate the good things,” she says.

Here are some recent posts I wanted to share:

Ruth Hamm (Post 1): I am amazed by the huge hearts of the people of Grande Prairie. Three of us from Grande Prairie leave for Uganda in 3 days to do some relief work in a village as well as work with street children in Kampala where 50% of the children live on the street.

Individuals that I do not even know have come through with huge hearts and generosity. Thank-you hardly seems adequate for how this project has been blessed by you. May you feel blessed in return.

Ruth Hamm (Post 2): Today as I was busy trying to settle my clients prior to leaving for Uganda for a few weeks, one of them called and asked me to come by his home for a bit. As I was preparing to leave after our chat he handed me 2 balls with the Canadian flag on them. He had gone to the Dollar Store to purchase them for the street kids I am going to work with in Kampala!! I just wanted to cry as I accepted them…this from a man who himself was homeless up until a few weeks ago.

Michelle Wurtz Dana Wall: A wonderful story. I went to the Co-op with my daughter and grabbed a few things. When I was standing in line, I realized I’d left my purse in the car. I asked the lady if I could leave my stuff there and she could ring in the next guy… no prob…When I got back with my purse the lady in front of me paid for my groceries for me!!! Wow!! All she said was “pay it forward”.

Jen Simons: I would just like to thank everyone who stepped up over the last couple of days to help out those affected by the cold snap. So many people have given up their own time to be out in the cold rescuing others with boosts and rides, not because they were obligated to, but out of the goodness of their hearts; I hope they know how appreciated they are.

Tracey Matchett Silliker: I go to Sun Capsule fitness and I went for a tan and left my gold necklace hanging in the tanning bed. I did not realize I had left it there until the next morning. The necklace means a lot to me as my hubby bought it for me for our 12th anniversary. I called them first thing and the lady said she didn’t see anything. So after dropping my son at school I went to the gym…. And after looking, it was in the desk taped to a paper with my name on it. Someone could have easily taken it but thankfully someone kind found it and did the right thing. I was almost in tears when they found it 🙂

Darlene M. Astle: I just want to shout out a big ‘Thank You’ to a fellow GP resident who came to my house yesterday to drop off a chopping block for firewood. My husband was out at the bank to get some cash to pay the guy but wasn’t back in time, so the nice guy gave it to me free of charge! It’s refreshing to know that there are still kind people around to help when you need it! :).

Patricia Colosimo-Andreeff: I have had a very rough 2011. Out of the blue, a yoga-instructor friend of mine invited me to her classes for free. Her friend offered me the same gift. OMG! Totally unexpected and right what I needed.

Janice Kretzer-Prysunka:  Two nights ago my crazy golden retriever found an open gate and took off … The coldest night and he’s off by himself. We looked and looked, posted on Facebook and called the radio stations. Very kind people in my neighborhood recognized him and noticed he was loose. They watched as he found a dryer vent across from their house to warm up under and then they called him over (he came of course, he’s a retriever!) I was so relieved to get their call and thankful that someone noticed a serious situation and took action!

Vicki Vienneau: I would like to give props to DeAnne Conway-Podolchyk!! DeAnne offered to purchase a bed for a lady with cancer who is sleeping on an air mattress!!! We definitely need many more people like her in the world 🙂 She totally made someone’s day and is going to make a huge difference in that person’s life :).

Angie Kipke:  A huge THANK YOU to my neighbour for snow plowing my driveway yesterday. I so appreciate it!

Meanwhile, this past Sunday evening, a gathering of 40 residents assembled for the first gpsoup event, an initiative that emanated from the City of Grande Prairie’s Love for Cities workshop. After a meal of soup and bread, participants voted on ideas for projects that were brought forward at the meeting.

The $10 collected from attendees at the inaugural event will go toward a bird house building project with kindergarten students (A total of $402.60).

The gpsoup (check out www.gpsoup.com, #gpsoup on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/groups/334373066581266/#!/gpsoup) concept is intended to be an ongoing initiative.

Congratulations to Heather Renner and Lloyd Piehl for taking the leadership to spearhead its development.

Perhaps they have adapted the famous John F. Kennedy quote for local purposes – they are doing for their community without asking what will be done for them.

Who Are Your Friends?

October 27, 2009 § 6 Comments

There is a saying that people come into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime and once you figure out where they fit, you will know what to do.

I have always enjoyed the verse because it has helped me numerous times understand others better and made sense of situations, sometimes after the fact, even years later.

People who you think you may enjoy lasting relationships with, you don’t for whatever reason, perhaps differing priorities. Often these folks move to another community and time and distance take their toll. A falling out can end what one might have thought was a lifetime friendship. Other individuals linger in your life a little longer and you realize later that they had a definite purpose and helped you grow from your experience with them. Then, there are people who seemed inconsequential with little in common when you first meet them … individuals you thought were simply fulfilling a reason or, at most, there for that symbolic season, who’ve endured, not just as friends, but almost like family.

For me, those lifetime people easily fit the bill with words I expect to see in a true friendship or even a business relationship – trust, respect, honesty, loyalty, and dependability.

The verse came to mind on my recent holidays to Ontario.

I was reminded of it after my wife, Joyce, and I went for dinner with two couples in Sault Ste. Marie that we have known for many years. And as one year has led into another and then we returned to Alberta after 20 years away, nothing has changed when we get together with these people after two years living in Alberta. These are definitely in the lifetime category.

They are genuine people that you know you could always call on, no matter what, and vice-versa. All friendships are to be treasured, especially ones you have built up for years. But it really is priceless to just be able to pick up where you left off.

With some people, even family members, there seems to be a reaquainting you have to go through before you get into your visit. Not with these friends. It was like we had never left.

One of the couples, we had known longer and spent more time with than the other – in fact we’d become so close that every year for about 16 years, we took turns hosting Christmas back and forth between our homes. If members of our respective families happened to be visiting, they were welcomed in. Summers were never complete without at least one camping trip together at Pancake Bay Provincial Park, north of Sault Ste. Marie, on the shores of Lake Superior. Here’s to you, Jeni and Jim!

The other couple had invited us to their wedding and that was already a dozen years ago! Wow. Nothing had changed with Johnny and Maria Murtha. Always the same down-to-earth, kindhearted people. Cheers to you, too. Actually, it is more like good luck. With two precocious daughters, they will have their hands full in a short time, Dad with a shotgun.

How does it happen that some people just become these kinds of friends that you can so easily reconnect with after two or three years apart?

Technology will certainly help, whether email, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, to keep the ties strong. And we can even pick up the phone every once in a while.

Speaking of technology, it was my interest in learning more about enhancing our City of Grande Prairie website and examining the potential of social media that connected me with my now friend and blogmate, Wendy Peters.

We met by attending the Website Strategy Conference last May in Calgary and hit it off immediately while waiting for one of the presentations to start. More chat ensued after and we exchanged business cards and agreed to stay in touch. I was interested in the validity of getting into the use of Twitter and she encouraged me to try it out. The rest is history.

We intend to write books together and seek other business opportunities, so the status of our relationship has to be at least in the reason category. Perhaps we will go our separate ways after we make a few million dollars together. However, every time we talk on the phone or chat on Facebook, more ideas come out, so it seems more likely that further opportunities would arise.

In fact, what really got our partnership started was my noticing on Twitter how profound some of Wendy’s sayings are. I felt these should be in a book. Wendy immediately jumped at the thought. We decided blogging would be the best way to develop our material together, and faster.

What is really neat is how in sync we are, despite our distance. I live in Grande Prairie and Wendy in Calgary. A reader of The Muse and Views noted that Wendy and I clearly have a lot of chemistry. We both agree wholeheartedly with that statement. It seems comparable to being a figure skating pair who produces great results together. What we do away from the “ice” does not matter and we might have little or nothing in common.

As it turns out, Wendy and I have become great friends and talk regularly on the phone and online. But I was floored when she told me that she had been a figure skater growing up, feeding direcly into my analogy.

In fact, it seems that every time one of us says something, the other has a complementary experience or idea to relate.

How does such magic occur? Why do two people with very different circumstances work so well together and feed off each other so readily? At times, it has been freaky.

I am not going to question the magic. I just want to ride this train to success. On the other hand, just like with our friends Jeni and Jim, the relationship cannot be taken for granted, either. Good friendships and business partnerships are nurtured.

And when Wendy realizes her dream of working in Africa for a while, I better be ready to either go visit or have the ability to conquer even greater communication challenges.

I don’t think there are too many ice rinks in Africa.

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