Thoughts from Mountainfilm 2011: Building Community
Almost a week later, and I am still in a Mountainfilm haze. It’s hard to pull all the thoughts together and come up with one coherent conclusion. But somewhere along the way, I wrote this:
Mountainfilm 2011: a whirlwind of old and new friends, inspiration, activism, blue skies, then snow, then blue skies again, and films, films and more films. It’s hard to even try to some it up. But this year the one word that sticks after the four day flurry in Telluride is “community.”
Whether it’s being reminded about the scientific reasons that we really are all connected, or thinking about the things that all of humanity can find solace in, throughout the weekend I kept thinking about the constant connections we have to the people around us and to the greater global community.
We don’t solve bigger problems on our own, we work together to find solutions. When there’s cause for celebration, we don’t rejoice alone, we rally those around us. Happiness, it turns out, is contagious. Every action we take, every emotion that we have, every choice we make, it all effects more than ourselves.
Terry Tempest Williams said something that stuck with me: “Change happens, I believe, through relationships.”
We come together to rejoice, to share our sorrows, build social movements and determine the best path for sustainable development. Across borders and cultures we find the things that connect us.
Sometimes it’s a bike.
Sometimes it’s a moveable garden.
Sometimes it’s the simple desire to be happy.
Whatever it is, there are things that bind us, no matter where or who we are. The more we focus on our differences, the more we separate ourselves, and the more detrimental that is to society as a whole.
We need our community. As Dan Austin of 88Bikes said, “happiness has value,” and most often, happiness is garnered from those around us. Issues far away in distant lands may intrigue us, but some of the most important impact we can have is building the community around us — assessing what we can realistically give and doing so on an everyday basis. It could be teaching a free yoga class, or making dinner for a neighbor, volunteering for a local organization or simply encouraging friends to get outside; everything has an impact, we just have to do it.
We can all take more time to build community. Because there is significant value in a community that “stands together and defends on another,” as Tim DeChristopher put it. It works as a ripple effect. We do not make change alone. “My actions are a part of many actions,” said Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain.
Celebrate your community. Make real connections. Talk to people. Take time to listen. And above all, be grateful for the connections that sustain you. It’s all part of creating change.