The Circle of Courage at Latham Centers: Building Community

March 9, 2015

I believe that how a “place feels” is an important question. I once had what could be described as a dream job. I was hired to work individually with kids who were struggling academically. The job paid exceptionally well and came with paid meals and more than the entire summer off. I lived in an apartment that was directly on the shore of a peaceful lake and my employer paid the rent. It had many benefits, but it also didn’t “feel right” and I never was able to get comfortable. I left that job after nine months and later took a job for less pay, none of the rent, and more demanding work. That job was at Latham Centers and I took it only because of the feeling I got when I came on campus.

This idea of building community is not a hokey, “Kumbaya” hope. Our brains and nervous systems are honed to “feel” our way into communities that support us. All of us can reflect on times when we have walked into a room or situation that had our skin crawling. That idea of being able to “slice the tension” with a knife is based in our biology. When each of us focuses on “community” and taking care of each other, all of us benefit. Although we have our days here, all in all, Latham is a community that feels right. We can improve on that by committing to consciously invest in those around us.

Over the next month, strive to: Be Kind, Connect, and Smile. If you consciously try to do this, the location you are in will be transformed. You have the control.

Here are some challenge ideas for you to try:

  • Look to the person to the left or right and do something nice. Say good morning, hold a door open, bring them a coffee when you get one. Simple acts of kindness.
  • Talk to the person instead of writing the email. Electronic communication is necessary, and can be very helpful, but it doesn’t support true community. When you can, have face to face interactions.
  • Put your phone away. Think of the last time you were in a conversation with someone and they took their phone out. Did it make you feel isolated or rejected? 

Our work is to connect with people- coworkers, residents, collaterals- not to be online 24/7.     

By: Tim Vaughan
Director of Leadership and Growth

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