Belonging

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The article below was to appear in this months, The Vine, but the newsletter is sadly going on hiatus for an indefinite time, so except for here, this piece will not be published. Writing for The Vine has been my most consistant writing gig these past few years and I will miss the opportunity to connect with so many of you in this way, exploring all that makes Davis, Davis.

For those of you who don’t live here, I hope that you can enjoy the messages of belonging that weave throughout, and you can disregard the final few paragraphs and search out what is happening in your community that you are drawn to be a part of instead.

And for those of you right here in Davis, thanks for the readership and for offering me a place where I felt my words and thoughts belonged.
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Like Pat Benetar belted out in her Billboard Hot 100 singles chart hit, “We belong to the light. We belong to the thunder.” Belonging is a basic human need—crossing cultures and types of people, that allows us to feel a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves alone. To belong is to have a rightful place, to feel that our lives have a purpose. Belonging is being home. Belonging can take on many forms and come in an array of colors, but at its base is a relationship based on giving and receiving. It is about attachment and connection. There is safety where we belong.

Most often we think about belonging in relation to people, places and things—we are members of our churches, we affilate with a sorority, we are part of our family. But Brene Brown teaches about the importance of self-acceptance in relationship to our sense of belonging. Brown suggests that the more we are able to stand before the world and show our truth, the more our sense of belonging increases. In her “Life Lessons” essay on Oprah.com, Brown states, “ Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are—love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all.”

It sounds simple then, love ourselves first and then the portal to eternal belonging will belong to you, right? Well what about when we are struggling to feel the love and instead we feel rejected, outcast, alienated, or isolated. These are the ills of our desire for belonging—feeling left out, disconnected. As a mom in this day and age, I worry about how social media will affect my daughters’ sense of belonging. Can I help support them in feeling accepted even when they see a photo on Instagram of a party full of folks they know, but they weren’t invited? Is it good to have so many new technologies that help us “connect,” or do they really leave us feeling more disconnected instead?

Perhaps social isolation was part of the reason for the loss of a Davis community hero recently. Steve Inness is described on his Wikipedia page as “a full-time member of the Davis community.” All of the posts on Facebook after his death talk of the many ways Steve connected with people and groups—changing lives, making an impact. His life is a long list of things he was a part of. Yet his words, “We’re all the same, we’re all trying to find our place in the world. A cosmic musical chairs,” holds a clue that perhaps Steve didn’t feel so connected and safe here. Maybe he felt more isolated and lonely then his participation in all these things might have suggested, and really he was struggling to find his place in the world, worried that he might be left without a chair. While his death is tragic, a beautiful seed is growing out of his loss. In true Davis style, those who knew and loved Steve have already begun to form a group dedicated to addressing these issues in our community.

While of course there is always room to grow, a true beauty of Davis is that there are so many ways in which we can choose to take part and find belonging. At its core this town is dedicated to community and I have seen the power of this come to fruition both as a receiver and recipient.

For certain, one place where membership is open to anyone who desires to take part is The Davis Food Coop (DFC). The Coop gives us all a chance to have an affiliation with people who believe that what we eat is about much more than the calories consumed, it is about community. We find fellowship when walking down the aisles, association when we read an article in The Vine, connection when we do our Super Worker hours stocking the shelves, rapport when taking a Coop Cooking class, and affiliation while knitting at the DFC knitting and crafting circle or discussing wheat flour replacement tips at the Gluten Free Group. The Coop also hosts a New Parents Network, a Toddler Play Group, the Young Survivor Coalition, and the Permaculture Circle every month as well.

So come belong. Enjoy your membership and take a class, or put a suggestion in the suggestion section, meet a friend on the patio for some tea or a brew. This time of year offers so many chances to invite and be invited. At the Coop there is Thanksgiving Sampling Day on November 14, where people can taste what Chef has come up with for Thanksgiving (and while you are at it, invite someone who might otherwise be alone to join you for Thanksgiving dinner). All month you can make donations to help buy 200 turkeys for the Food Bank; and immediately after Thanksgiving the Coop will have the STEAC Family adoption where we adopt 25 people and make Christmas for them. Finally, don’t miss out on two great Coop Community Winter traditions— the Children’s Candlelight Parade on December 3 and the Holiday Meal on December 24.

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