Little Free Invitation
A few months ago, our friend and colleague Joy Boe, invited us to co-create a Little Free Library. Little Free Libraries aren't new, they've been around for years and years. However, for us, this invitation stood as an offering to connect. It's easy for us to get caught up in the minutia, buried in our day to day grind with work, kids and life in general. We fly in and out of interactions with heads down and fast-paced energy. We around people in our community, workplace and homes, yet we aren't always WITH people in our community, workplace and homes. Joy noticed this and took action with a Little Free Invitation.
Tapping into her creative fire, Joy hosted an internal meeting with all of us Coordinators. We have a small team, mighty, but small. Over a 2-hour period, the 7 of us donned painting aprons, gripped brushes and colored the different elements of our soon-to-be Little Free Library. With no specific instructions, Joy invited us to paint whatever we felt moved to paint, in any design, color or fashion. This intentional decision reminds me of Tom Kohler's Annual Covered Dish Party and how they invite attendees to bring their own table centerpiece. Tom says "It doesn't need to be the same, to be beautiful."
Think about that statement: It doesn't need to be the same, to be beautiful...simple, profound and a great analogy on how community is and should be. If our goal is to live in a world that works for everyone, one in which all of us feel like we are members of something greater than ourselves, than we truly must embrace the notion that our collective differences make up a stronger, more vibrant, inclusive community.
So back to Joy's invitation. While internally, Joy observed us stuck in fragmentation, our finished product, the Life Works Little Free Library, is an extended invitation to our neighborhood. Joy's invitation to our team acted as the connecting-pebble dropped into our office pool. From that, the water ripples. It ripples in the form of driving a post into the planter on the porch of our office, nailing and glueing the painted elements of our Library together and pouring cement as the foundation of our invitation to our neighborhood as an organization.
Over the past 3 months, we've seen our surrounding community interact with us in new and heart-warming ways. Obviously people grab books and leave books...that's the intention at it's core. Beyond book exchanging, little moments of care emerged. About a month after installing the Library, the "E" fell off and was damaged. Within 48 hours, someone in our community had laminated a red-colored "E" and mounted it onto our Library. A few months later, as I prepared a cup of coffee, I witnessed an elderly gentleman walk up to the Library, stop and open his backpack. From it, he pulled out a doll, clearly hand-made, and placed it between the houses that sit on the top of the Library. He quickly made sure it was steady and walked off. Neither citizen in either of these moments looked for recognition, nor asked for permission.
This is the power of Invitation. It's increasingly difficult to keep up with everything. Technology permeates our lives, oftentimes in incredible ways, and can consume us if we are not intentional about how we utilize it as a gift. While it connects us globally, it disconnects us locally...that is unless, we allow ourselves to be interrupted. Being interrupted is an act carrying negative connotations...so here is my invitation to you: I invite you to change the narrative of being interrupted. When we allow ourselves to be interrupted, or accept an invitation to connect, we find ourselves in conversations and collaborations yielding a richness our lives have yet to manifest. When we stop, put the phones down, listen to those around us and share our stories, we shift from being AROUND people, to being WITH people.
Thank you Joy for inviting us to co-create this Little Free Library. Further, thank you for the ripples you've created from this profound Little Free Invitation. Spread the invitation movement to your neighborhoods and communities, enjoying the beauty of our collective humanity at an entirely new level.
From the Little Free Library website:
"Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.
Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds." www.littlefreelibrary.org