By Mischa Ledder
Editor's Note: Mischa Ledder is taking a step to connect our community by reaching out and to connect, talk and maybe feature local Fort Collins people. Read below and get to know her philosophy.
The sun hit my face one morning as I laid sprawled out on my neighbor’s living room floor. I was house-sitting for a month. I peered out the window and into the world. It was mid-fall, rusty orange leaves paraded with yellow hues as branches danced. For a moment, I felt blocked off from the world by glass panes masquerading as privacy. Like a fish in a bowl, I peered out and saw a glimpse of the world’s backyard, yet here I remained. Isolated from neighbors. Isolated from self. I had moved back to America within the last year after living overseas. The lack of community and the individualistic culture was the hardest hurdle to overcome. I often sat in a pool of self-defeat far too long and passed the blame. This went on for several months until motivation was awakened and determination re-birthed. There would be no change if I remained moping, so my two leading questions became: How could I cultivate community and what was my role?
In a day of social media and the internet an epidemic has emerged. We are more connected than ever, yet people report feeling lonelier. We scroll through Facebook for hours liking peoples’ profiles. We put our heads down and find security in our digital devices when in public places or when walking to school. After all, it is far less vulnerable there isn’t it? Insecure in person, so we pretend we are texting all our friends. But, that’s not true community. When is the last time instead of liking a photo of the delicious shrimp scampi a friend had made the previous night, you actually shared that meal with them? When is the last time instead of messaging a friend who had gone through a hard season if they needed anything, you just drove to their house? It is much easier to dismiss help in the form of a message, but if someone shows up at your door, if anything they might oblige your request just not to be rude, but truth be told they needed that face to face connection. Community is out there, we just have to take a step towards it and that can be awkward. It involves going against the norm and there is a chance you might get rejected, but it is worth it.
In this day of technology, we can watch the news and know the events happening in every country, but do we know our neighbor’s name? We have access to limitless information, but do we know the very people who live right next to us? Fortunately, I have the privilege of knowing my neighbors, but I wanted to get connected even more, so I put a message on my Facebook page. I offered to buy coffee for those who were willing to meet up and share a piece or all of their story. I wanted to hear what their needs were and what their lives had been like since the last time we saw each other. I have met with two people so far. Both I hadn’t seen in over six years, but I got to reconnect and hear of their adventures and heartaches. This Fall season and with Thanksgiving around the bend, reach out to someone. Invite someone over for a meal. Heck, do it over a hot pumpkin latte. Take a step towards the community you long for and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Today, if you do not know your neighbor’s name, go ask them. Be the community you long to see.
Do you have some submission ideas? Want to talking with Mischa or suggest she feature someone? Contact us using the link on our homepage!