In the past two weekends, I have been reminded exactly why I spend so many of my waking hours organizing events, posting on social media, worrying about whether anyone is going to show up at said events, and obsessing over the best ways of facilitating authentic communication between the people who show up. It’s not for the dancing or music or books, fun as all of that is. Instead, it’s about forming a community of people who care about each other. It’s strange how rare a concept that is; how much effort that simple seemingly self-fulfilling goal takes.
Over Labor Day weekend, the fifteen members of Miranda’s Hearth, the rock-solid core of this constantly growing community, piled into cars and headed up to an AirBnB in Vermont for our third annual Hearth Retreat. For the entire weekend we talked, ate, explored, laughed, played, and planned together. I returned to a thought that has been following me throughout the year: who the hell are these people? These beautiful, varied souls who take a chunk out of their lives and commit it to something outside of themselves, why them? What ties them together?
We have purposefully avoided becoming a group dedicated to a discipline. To say the Hearth Members are a group of artists is far too simplistic, and honestly not true. Instead, they are a community of people dedicated to crafting their own lives. Each of them takes the time to observe their life and ask why things are happening and then how they can shape those things. They are people who push back against the cultural expectation of putting one foot in front of another along a predetermined path and instead choose to be active participants in their own lives.
But even more important than their personal ambitions, fascinating and varied as those are, is the Hearth Member‘s dedication to being part of a community. During a late night conversation at the retreat, a group of us got to talking about the difficulties of creating a community. One went so far as to say that community is an inconvenience. In our ever busier lives, how do we find time for ourselves, let alone other people we have no work/familial/educational commitment to? On a day-to-day basis, it is so much easier to live out our lives safely encapsulated in our own separate worlds rather than carving out time for being part of a community. Because that’s what community takes, the carving out of time.
This is the true undercurrent that ties the Hearth Members together. Yes, they are passionate, driven, fascinating, creative people. But they are also the kind of people who value community enough to show up, even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient.
Looking around the room at last night’s Hearth Dinner on Race Equity, I was hit by this reality once again. Three years ago, I started hosting music, art, & wine nights in my Medford apartment as a last ditch attempt to find a group of people in a new, cold city. At that point, it took the promise of free booze to get a group of strangers to spend some time together. I never would have imagined that in a mere three years the people drinking and laughing in my apartment would care enough about each other to show up and have a respectful conversation about one of the hardest and most taboo subjects in our culture: racial inequity. As a community that is largely white, this is not a conversation most of us are forced to face every day. It is difficult, uncomfortable, and, yes, inconvenient. It is also possibly the most important conversation we’ve had yet.
Not only did the community show up, but they engaged fullheartedly. They asked questions, shared their personal histories and their fears, and embraced their discomfort in the pursuit of developing a stronger and more welcoming community. Because, inconvenient as it may be, being part of a community is what gives us the security and support to be active shape our own lives.
Become more involved in the Hearth Community at one of our upcoming events, we get together every week and we’d love to meet you!