By Christopher Dotson
Pushing the Boundaries: First-Timers Perform OB Community Outreach
Just the other day we were getting our favorite take-out, and while talking with the owner, he responded, “It was a slow start, but WE’RE PICKING IT UP!”
The statement was simple and seems obvious. My facial expression showed him I truly felt and appreciate his positive tone and affirmation. Why not? We can all use a bit of infectious sincerity . . . Why not re-affirm his assertion: We are picking it up.
What’s more real?
A smile that ya’ see,
Or the smile that you feel?
An honest smile can win folks over sometimes
As a deeper reminder how communities do pull together, San Diegans work hard to help our less fortunate get help, and Ocean Beach is a sparkling gem in San Diego’s “crown” of community-based and inter-faith outreach programs.
Whether it is “All-FAITHS” or none, OBceans do engage each other in positive ways, and join as one towards growing our oasis community.
San Diego is the long-time home to meaningful programs representing communities and social groups from across the geographic, social, political and economic spectrums. Often these are inter-faith and NGO-styled organizations, along with their constituencies, who are actively promoting positive, engaged communities. Perhaps more than most, OB has always learned new ways to embrace and build upon its diverse community.
From first-time volunteers to legacy support groups, good spirits abound in our town. We do feel the embrace of those who push the boundaries and make a difference in people’s lives, everyday.
Extending beyond “boundaries”: First-timers
A recent Saturday – February 25 – was another special morning in OB when our “paradise” community came alive, thriving on the positive energy of the Newbreak/Ebers St. church. About a hundred members teamed up, canvassing our streets and alleyways around the pier.
First-time volunteers embraced our most humble areas, talking with fellow-OBceans, handing out dog treats while conducting their church-sponsored “OB Street cleanup”, which included families and folks of all ages.
As one member explained that they did not have the funds, Newbreak church members had also chipped in to re-paint their youth center. This is another good sign which we can choose to build upon in our Oasis-Beach village.
Engaging our diversity: What’s a Peace Circle?
We can (and do!) make a difference . . . and groups of us, literally circles of us, choose not to accept division as status quo or politics as usual. Even more examples abound in our lil’ OB downtown. . .
Not long ago, Sacred Heart Church of Ocean Beach conducted an amazing series of sessions, as they expertly facilitated teams of community members, each team forming mediated “Peace Circles”. During the event, these Peace Circles shared and articulated their group-defined “value statements” and affirmations, then submitted specific ideas intended to promote positive, community-building efforts.
One goal, I feel, was to further demonstrate our diversity, and examining proactive measures designed to engage various groups and communities. This is what I’ve always envisioned whenever one bumper sticker, in particular, rolls by and proclaims: “Friends for Peace.”
At work in OB: A Legacy of services
Other groups include legacy OB supporters, organizers and canvassers who offer services which do much more than merely promote healthy beaches and communities. “Go paddle around the pier” events, and beach clean-up days are two of many examples.
These organizations encourage daily community interaction along our city streets, engaging in positive efforts which support tolerance and understanding through communications and discussions, and a sort of “cultural immersion”.
As one first-timer said on that Saturday, they were out doing clean-up because folks in OB do manage to come together to “help the community”. Families and people of all ages and backgrounds helping to answer the ever-increasing call heard by our community leaders, as well as individuals and groups whose sole intent is towards growing together as a strong, diverse community. An OBcean community built on a “color-blind” ethos. Better yet, culture-blind!
A Community At-Large: Our Larger Sense of Community
A fully-diverse and engaged citizenry is a more healthy community, and OB becomes an oasis community each day we all choose to exemplify and embrace our diversity, demonstrating tolerance and patience for others, that is, Grace.
Everyday “random acts of kindness”, and common-sense co-operative efforts – like our community clean-up days – all these do add up and are multiplied when we take these positive steps, together, united. . . .