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Being neighborly

Back in my teens and 20s, I was fairly politically active. I loved working on campaigns. Like other people create fantasy football teams, my friends and I would spend hours planning and creating our dream political teams...Fantasy Congress, if you will.

I stayed somewhat active through my 30s. I raised money and ran campaigns for candidates I believed in, regardless of which political party they belonged. But in recent decades I've gotten away from politics. Both parties piss me off and neither represents me and my views. I've threatened to form my own party ... not red or blue... something solidly in the purple -- right down the middle. (Here's a great article on the subject)

I'm sick of the extremes on both sides.

I've also watched as the democratic process has been left behind. There are a handful of people who make decisions both locally and nationally. The voice of the people isn't heard and often, isn't even communicated. The general public isn't involved they way they used to be. I think it's because they don't feel heard. I know I don't. It's harder and harder to get anyone's attention.

The thing is, we are more connected to each other in some ways than we ever have been before. I can easily talk to friends in Ireland or Japan. The impact of global events can be felt even in my small, Idaho town. At the same time, we live in an isolating world. We don't gather the way we used to. When was the last time you went to a dinner party at someone's home? Or maybe a good ol' fashioned church social? Oh, yes, those things happen in some areas, but in reality few of us know our neighbors beyond the occasional wave on the street.

Not only is it rather nice to get to know the people who live near you, having actual conversations with people gives you the opportunity to understand their needs and desires. It's possible to have actual empathy for one another. These connections can happen on social media, yes, but it's oh-so-much more powerful to share a physical presence with another human being.

Once that happens, there is the magic. In my experience, we have far more in common than we don't. There is far more good in this world than bad. It feels like there's so much hatred and unhappiness right now....and, in fact, there is. But there is so much to be thankful for and so much love to give.

On Wednesday nights, here in my Queendom, I head over to to Queen Stitch and Snip's castle for what I call, "craft beer night". This isn't a brewery where a brew master has created an artisanal beer. Nope. I mean drink beer and do crafts. The official name is Stitchy Fingers. Queen S -n- S hosts it each Wednesday to encourage customers and their friends to come to her studio and work on what ever sewing or craft activity they choose. I choose to drink beer and sew. But not everyone drinks.... and not every sews....

Everyone does their own thing. I've watched as my friends made beautiful wreaths, work on detailed quilts or knitted blankets for soon-to-arrive grand-babies. Some people just come for the company. One of my friends, Spud Queen, drives over an hour to hang out with the group. She says she comes over for a variety of reasons, but one of them is for "real talk, from women who get my life." We all bring food and drink to share. Sometimes, we bother with plates. Most often we grab a napkin and wing it.

I have come to love these people, (mostly women, and a few fun-loving men). They are kind and supportive. Most of all, they make me laugh and I always feel like I belong. Connected.

Over the weekend, Queen Nerea and I were talking about how much we enjoy these Wednesday nights. There's something sacred about sharing time and laughter together. Women gathering together to share time, experience and resources is an ancient practice and, I think, it has been lost. While we can talk to each other online, sitting next to someone and experiencing their joy and pain physically doesn't seem to happen as much. It also puts us in the position of hearing each other's stories. Once we have real life conversations with people, it's harder to hate. The women in that room each Wednesday night come from diverse backgrounds, have different goals and passions, but in the end I think our goals are the same. We all want to make sure our families are healthy and happy. We want to work hard and do the things we love with people we cherish. We want to feel like we are a part of something bigger -- to feel connected to the world -- to be heard.

And once we are heard? Well, that's where the power is.

So that brings me back around to politics. I miss feeling like I have a voice. I also miss making a difference. Being around this group of people on Wednesday night's has reminded me that collectively we can have our voice back, but we have to actually talk to each other. It's reminded me that we can make changes, get people elected and serve the public. Together, we can define what our communities look like. I'm not exactly sure of the next step, but I'd like to figure it out. November and December are busy months, but I'd like to host a dinner party and get people talking about the community we'd like to have here in the Queendom and beyond. I think that can take place in January and I'd like you to join me if you live near. If you live far way, I am challenging you to make connections in a way that's comfortable for you. Host your own dinner party. Volunteer somewhere. Write a letter to the editor. Do something. Take action.

A few years ago, my friend Shelley hosted a soup supper and got to know her neighbors. Maybe you could do something like that where you live?

Then, let's check back here and report what we're learning. 2020 is a big year -- the end of the decade, a national election and so much more. I want our little Queendom to be part of a revolution -- no blood shed, or war, but a reclaiming of our voice and our role in the way our communities are designed.

Who is with me on this?

Let me know by commenting below. See ya soon!

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We've been planning to have people over once a month for game or card night and a meal. This winter might just be the one we actually do it!

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