Socializing + Social Justice

September 14th

Arvada Community Food Bank

I’ve found a great group of like-minded community friends in Denver who get together a couple times a month to talk about social justice issues. In particular, hunger. We are all volunteers at a local food bank and are reaching out to other food banks and community groups to organize events to encourage similar opportunities to have conversation.

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It seems there is a considerable lack of civil conversation these days. I’d guess our inability to disagree with each other without calling names or raising our voices and other notable lapses of basic manners are linked to our strained sense of community. Once we become comfortable not bothering to know our neighbors — much less help care for them — it is far easier to let the door swing shut in the stranger’s face behind us. Flip someone off in traffic. Roll your eyes at the overwhelmed mother struggling with her children. Look the other way when you see someone being abused, or going hungry.

Arvada Community Food Bank

And so, I call baloney. Baloney to anyone who says that is the type of community you want to live in. Baloney to those who say we can’t do something to change this. And baloney to those who laugh at the “naive” and “innocent” energies of those who want to create serious social change. While it may be easier to dismiss those around you trying to do something, we aren’t going to do any good from the comfort of the couch.

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Coming together with folks who want to see their community strengthened is rad. I love hearing the wild and varied ideas for events and passions everyone brings to the table. We are all interested in improving the ability of this food pantry to reach those who are hungry in metro Denver. Yet fundamentally, we are more troubled by the social failings that has the queue in the front door snaking farther down the sidewalk each week.

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How do we fix poverty? How do we get our neighbors to care about their community? How do we reverse social involvement apathy? By inviting more friends to the conversation, spending more time getting to know clients of the food pantry, investing a bit of money in local charities who are doing sustainable work for long-term change and reviewing and advocating for policy.

And perhaps most important: being willing to listen to varied voices. I spent time yesterday with a self-described “radically right conservative” who leads a food bank in northern Colorado. He was one of the most well-spoken, compassionate people I’ve ever heard talk about hunger. And he had some fantastic ideas that would have likely been brushed under the rug by this “all loving” liberal who obviously has some work to do on her pigeon-holed views.

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I’m this fired up after one happy hour. Oh, dear Denver. Tempe should have given you a heads up about my crazed, focused, overly-optimistic ways.

To a hunger-free, socially-just infinity and beyond!



Posted in
Colorado, Community
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7 Responses

  1. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. – Gandhi

    Thanks for modeling the changes you want to see – community involvement, talking, sharing ideas, listening to others, changing your “pigeon-holed views.” The world needs more of that from us.

  2. woot woot!

    love this post.

  3. Smiling here, just at the thoughts and images this conjured up for me. I am getting ready to do my 2cnd empty bowls event. I still am laughing in my head at the people who said why bother?, and I am still bothering.
    it’s the baby steps sister, that change this world..
    GO girl! Don’t ever let them tell you you can’t!

  4. And what about the ones saying they don’t have time? Well, make time, some things just nedd to be done and fixed! Bravo Kelli, you’re always such an inspiration!

  5. Absolutely – getting to know my neighbors so well has me caring a LOT more about what happens in my community and TO my community.

    On a related note to something you wrote – and coming from someone who does her fair share of traffic flipping – my rule for not being rude in traffic within a few miles of work (since that idiot cutting me off could be a coworker – or WORSE – my boss) (who, incidentally, is an awful driver) is also in effect within a few miles of my house, because I’d never want to be rude to my neighbors.

    I imagine that eventually this will extend to all people on the roads, but I guess it “starts at home” right?

    Or so the saying goes.

    Either way – go on with your awesome self. You’re bringing good things to the world, friend.

  6. Imagine!! Imagine!! Thanks for inspiring!