I live in a really small community. There are no chain restaurants, no big box stores, and many family owned businesses. The draw back is that because we are remote, it’s quite expensive. We pay $1.00 more per gallon of gas than most places, and our food prices are sky-high.
One of the grocery stores is family owned. The current owner is a forward thinking man. He recently installed shade structures in the parking lot with solar panels and plug-ins for electric cars. He’s on the board of a grassroots nonprofit that supports local agriculture and he purchases a good amount of produce from local farmers. On top of all of this, one of the things that I love about this grocery store is that on any given day that I drive by, Mr. Bernier (who’s probably in his 60s) is in the parking lot with a little push cart, sweeping the huge parking lot and surrounding sidewalks. Here’s a guy who has enough money to hire 3 people to get this job done in a snap, or buy some fandangled machine to slurp up all of the litter. But there he is, day after day, sweeping.
On my way to work today I was inspired to stop and tell him how much I respect him for this small gesture. I was late to work, but sometimes you just have to stop and connect. So I tell him how much I appreciate that he is out there sweeping, in addition to all of the other things he does to improve his business, and this is what he said. “Every day I wake up and I put on my pants with a left pocket and a right pocket, just like most people. I thank god for all that I have and for the community I live in. And I promise to do my part to add to that community and make it a better place.”
Well, my pockets aren’t filled with nearly as much money as his, but that’s exactly his point. It doesn’t matter if our bank accounts are spilling over (I’m not even sure I can imagine that one!), or if we’re living hand to mouth. What matters is that we live in community and do for one another to make that community a place we all want to be in.
I got to thinking…the children’s writing community it just like that. Every single children’s writer or illustrator that I have met in person or online, whose blog or website I’ve read, and whose wisdom I’ve soaked up, has tirelessly been giving to the children’s writing community. They have collectively helped me get to where I am today, and I am grateful for each and every one. I, in turn, want to give back. Be it a thoughtful critique, a book review, an encouraging word, a resource I found invaluable, a connection with another writer or editor or agent, or (in my highest hopes) this blog…my pockets are full of eagerness to keep the writing community well fed and cared for.
Life Lesson #3: If we want to give to one person, it’s just as easy to give to many. Who better to remind of this than Sandra Horning in her book…
with illustrations by the incredibly talented Valeri Gorbachev. (Click on book cover for link to Sandra Horning’s website)
How do you like to give to your community?