How Do We Care For Each Other? or Creating the Shtetl We Want to Live In.

Posted by Jessica Duncan on

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. Really. We are in the opening chapter of the World in Collapse and, most days, it all feels so damned terrible. But you already knew this.

I’m not actually here to bring you down. I’m here to remind you that, through our communities, we can face what the world is throwing at us with courage and love. To loosely quote my dear friend Laura, we get to create the shtetl we want to live in and find the joy that comes with surrounding ourselves with friends and companions, people who lift each other up and nourish each other.

So, how do we care for each other? Through all the bad news stories, I am constantly brought back to this question, because, in my mind, it is how we care for each other that is going to help us through these tough times.  There are so many different ways to care for others. We can care for those we love, and we can care for complete strangers. We see it every day. We do it every day. Community care happens despite atrocities. Community care happens because of atrocities.

Over the past eleven years, I have built my shtetl around Singing Bowl Granola. My customers, my employees, my suppliers, my colleagues, my community all play a vital role in my wellbeing. More than that, they (you!) all play a vital role in the wellbeing of a broader community of complete strangers, folk we’ve never met. Together we are stronger and kinder and more helpful than the world beyond our shtetl.

Despite being in business for more than a decade, I am in constant awe of the impact of each granola sale.  Every single sale adds up, keeping Singing Bowl Granola in business another day, allowing us to keep caring for our community.

A story. As a former teacher, I know that every classroom has students showing up hungry. With this understanding and access to more oats than you can imagine, I can provide my local schools with organic porridge to nourish their hungry students. BUT I can only do this if my costs are covered and with help getting the porridge to the schools. Our friends at the Blue Heron Advisory Group, have money available for children in need, so they cover my costs. Every month, a handful of amazing volunteers from our community who also care deeply about hungry children, deliver the porridge to the schools. This week, one of my lovely volunteers showed up with a beautiful bouquet for me from her neighbour’s garden stand.  This is just one little story of a whole lot of care for folk we know and for complete strangers.

Hundreds of servings of organic instant porridge ready to go out to schools.

Another story. And this is a story that has both haunted me and empowered me for most of my life.  My paternal grandmother was in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia while my father was being hidden by his Christian aunt. Shortly before the women in her camp were sent to their deaths, one inmate was released for some reason. She went straight to my father’s aunt to report on my grandmother’s situation inside the camp. The story is that my grandmother was working in the camp kitchen and despite knowing the consequences if she was caught, she would steal onions and potatoes to share with the women in her barrack. As the world she knew was in total collapse, my grandmother still found the resources to care for others.

In the big picture, society has lost its way and the picture is pretty grim. Close up, however, the picture tells a different story. Close up we are still communities of humans who care for each other.  Even in the toughest of times, perhaps especially in the toughest of times, we still know how to care for each other. And we do.

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