Saturday, December 24, 2016

How to Build Community

When four-color printing is left in the sun, the yellow ink fades first, then the red, then slowly the blue, and the black, last of all.

There's a copy of this poster, called How to Build Community, in Trotters Restaurant in St. Paul. It's been there for a while, because the yellow is at least half gone and the red is starting to go, too.

The poster art was created by Karen Kerney for the Syracuse Cultural Workers in 1998. It made me think of how easy it is to say what we don't want, and not so easy to say what we do want, what our vision of a just, sustainable, humane world looks like.

Here are the words:

How to Build Community
Turn off your TV
Leave your house
Know your neighbors
Look up when you are walking
Greet people
Sit on your stoop
Plant flowers
Use your library
Play together
Buy from local merchants
Share what you have
Help a lost dog
Take children to the park
Garden together
Support neighborhood schools
Fix it even if you didn't break it
Have potlucks
Honor elders
Pick up litter
Read stories aloud
Dance in the street
Talk to the mail carrier
Listen to the birds
Put up a swing
Help carry something heavy
Barter for your goods
Start a tradition
Ask a question
Hire young people for odd jobs
Organize a block party
Bake extra and share
Ask for help when you need it
Open your shades
Sing together
Share your skills
Take back the night
Turn up the music
Turn down the music
Listen before you react in anger
Mediate a conflict
Seek to understand
Learn from new and uncomfortable angles
Know that no one is silent though many are not heard
Work to change this

Thanks to the Trotters family and their small business for keeping this poster up long enough to fade a bit, and reminding me of this.

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