Appreciating community where we find it

Regular readers may have noticed the diminished frequency of our posts.

As Carol noted (in her most recent post): “I have a confession to make: We’re not really spending a year in a room. In the eight months we’ve lived at Beacon Hill Friends House we’ve travelled extensively both for work and for pleasure.”

And unlike more accomplished bloggers, we’ve not yet mastered the skill of sustaining a regular pace of publishing while we’re on the road.

One thing we are learning: How to appreciate community where we find it. Some of those places: On the road for three weeks in Vietnam with a band of 14 fellow travelers who quickly became friends; at Bamboo, a co-working space in downtown Detroit that Kirk Cheyfitz and Ellen Jacob and I have adopted as an office-away-from home; at our new parish, the Paulist Center across from Boston Common.

viet fotoThe Vietnam trip, organized by old friends Hoa & Tom Fox, got me enthused about a style of travel that has been around for a while but that I’d not experienced: A group assembled around common interests in addition to curiosity about the destination. In this case, the Foxes gathered friends of the National Catholic Reporter, the liberal weekly Tom led for more than 30 years. Together, they guided us through Vietnam, where Hoa met Tom and where they lived before moving to Detroit (and meeting us) in 1972. Despite age gaps — in some cases, they spanned half a century — the group found a pace and a purpose that seemed to work for all concerned.

An insight-in-retrospect: What I found especially interesting was placing myself in the shoes of fellow travelers with the idea of seeing things differently than was possible on my own.

AlfieWorking at Bamboo is a bit like working in an old-fashioned newsroom: Not many interior walls and the ones that do exist stop well short of the ceiling. Oh yeah, and while those smoky old city rooms were home to a host of characters, I recall none as cute and loyal as Alfie, pictured at left.

Bamboo co-founder Dave Anderson told me his favorite thing about the place is the wood floor. I like the exposed brick and the view out over Harmonie Park, a combination that creates a nice space indeed. The location directly on top of You Walk Bail Bonds adds a special Detroit flavor.

Kirk and Ellen and I set up shop in Bamboo ($99 a month gets you access to a table, chair and kitchen 24/7) as part of our work on Detroit143, the community news and marketing initiative we’re building. (More photos of Bamboo,  in addition to Alfie, at the Bamboo link above.) We’ve also worked in a more traditional office setting at our partner organization, New Detroit, and in our client coffee shop, Café Con Leche. But there’s something about the co-working phenomenon — and Bamboo in particular — that inspires the sort of collaboration, transparency and fun that we hope will be hallmarks of Detroit143.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 1.36.33 PMWe knew that living on Beacon Hill would put us in closer touch with public transportation, historic sites, wonderful parks and great restaurants than anywhere we’d ever lived before. We had no idea it would put us within an eight minute walk of a Catholic Church we’d be enthusiastic about joining. In the interest of keeping this post reasonably short, I’ll link you to the piece I wrote for the National Catholic Reporter about the community we’re enjoying at the Paulist Center.

Where have you discovered community lately?

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