What does it take to build a community of giving and support when it's in transition? According to a beautiful, thoughtful essay by Ethan Hamblin, an intern with the Foundation for Applachian Kentucky, it takes a love of place, a love of self, and a love of community. Three things that sound simple but in reality are far more complex and challenging. How can we build up these "loves of" in our own lives and towns? I've posted an excerpt from the essay below – be sure to go to the Babcock Foundation website to read the whole thing.
In December 1990 country music legends The Judds released their 22nd career single, “Love Can Build a Bridge.” The hit song’s lyrics encourage audiences to engage in acts of love that will inspire hope over despair and solidify justice and compassion.
As Appalachia continues to seek economic and social transition, there could be no greater means of empowerment than the call to action from “Love Can Build a Bridge.” Communities and individuals must dedicate themselves to “whisper love so loudly every heart could understand.” Through love-charged giving of our time, talent, and treasure we can actively pursue opportunity, eradicate social barriers, and build healthy, thriving communities for all people.
Love of Place
The greatest affection of a community is its sense of identity, its purpose or calling. Thus, the charge behind community-based action must be rooted in a strong sense of place. In simple terms: one must love a place to see it change.
Cultural organizers and grassroots movements within Appalachia have a long-standing commitment to place identity. However, businesses, schools, local governments, and private institutions must also sincerely invest in our community. Loving a place is much more than an appreciation of culture and heritage, it involves actively giving for the betterment of the place.
As a place changes, so does its identity. Industry shifts, demographics flip-flop, and traditions change. Today, as Appalachia faces an economic transition, we must be willing to explore new possibilities, embracing what has been and what could be. Loving a place includes seeing it change and being present for that change.
Photo of Hazard, KY by cindy47452 used under Creative Commons license.