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Life Arts

Building a village of the heart.

By       Message Robert N Smith     Permalink
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            Today I do not give thanks, I ask for help. Not just for the people who I am trying to help but for all the people everywhere who need it. I am asking each and every one of you who reads this to look around and do something for someone else. I am asking that in these troubled times each of you forge a community or village where you are that says, everyone matters, everyone is worth something, and everyone might have troubles but together we can support and help each other. Support each other through shared resources and developing local sources of income and local goods to sell or trade for what we need. Support each other by each donating time, money or talent to help another and paying forward, so when you need help someone else will be standing there with a helping hand.


            A few weeks ago I took some misdirected mail over to neighbors that though they live about 150 yards from me I haven’t talked to since I had a major heart attack. Before that I used to walk my property line and spoke to them if they were out but haven’t been able to do that for a while. I had seen the for sale sign at the end of their driveway but hadn’t thought about it. Also knew they sold their cows a while back but hadn’t thought about that either. They are a hard working couple with two kids in school, he is a truck driver and she works in a convenience store.  Together they had raised and sold cows and grew a truck garden that they sold at the local farmers market. They were a typical rural family here in Northeast Tennessee.


            Only I found out they are no longer typical but instead are among those whose world is falling apart. She is just out of the hospital after suffering a major heart attack. He is bedridden with stage four lung cancer. Then after this I found out their school age son is now going deaf. So the boy needs an operation to install tubes in his ears. Their electric and water bills were over due. With the money they got from selling their cows and cashing in their 401K, they had managed to catch up on their mortgage payment and catch up and pay off their truck. However they did not have money for his medicine or for Christmas for the kids or to pay the mortgage another time. One church donated food, another donated school clothes and a third bought him pain medicine that he was doing without. Still another church paid their overdue utility bills. That’s a lot of support from a few small local churches.


            I guess I got things started with the churches. However I want to do more. I am trying to find local bands that will give a charity concert for them I am also trying to get items donated to sell or raffle to raise money to keep them together until March when his disability will start. A disability that won’t start until the government says he has used all of his 401k money. In the mean time they got signed up for TENN CARE so soon they will have medical coverage again.


            I have learned of two other families who are in the same shape or worse since I started trying to raise money for my neighbors. A man and his school age son living in the next town over from us and a woman and here son living in the next state all of who asked for and will get my help,. So I am now not trying to help just a neighbor but trying to create a village of concern for the needs of those who are falling through the cracks. I am looking for ways to earn money for all these people and more. Ways to help people who are falling through the cracks in huge numbers. Ways to help learn how to earn money even from a sickbed. Ways to help keep children in the homes that they were growing up in. Ways to say I am a neighbor and I hope you are too. Ways to build a community that says we all have worth and can get through this hard time together. I hope a few people reading this will feel the same way and give me some suggestions. I need to raise money to help this family, but even more to create something that will grow into a whole bunch of villages. Villages that can and will grow and share food. Villages that can and will help with childcare. Villages that will learn to produce something of value they can sell or trade for what they need. Villages like the little town of Kinzu, PA that is my model from my youth. If a few dozen native families can do something like that with almost no resources, think what you or I can do. Even in a city we can still grow a village, maybe not all in one location but in one location in our hearts.


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A retired Navyman who has ran for 1st. District of Tennessee as a Green with a primary plank of Impeaching Bush/Chaney and a secondary plank of listening to and serving people instead of corporations. He now has accepted the position of FOAVC (more...)

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