In my parallel life, I own a children's outer wear accessories business called January Baby. For the last, I've lost count of how many years but likely 10 I've hosted an Outdoors Everyday Challenge in February. The Challenge shared a short blog post and a photo challenge and the goal was to encourage people to get outdoors in the worst days of the winter.
Last year I invited guest bloggers and one of those blog posts was written by Robyn, and I just stumbled upon it today and thought it was a wonderful post to share over here at Art With Anna.
It's about community, and art, and growing up and so much more. So here it is: Robyn's Outdoors Everyday 2023 post:
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY
If you ever wondered if 'The Village' was important Robyn is here to tell you that kids remember. They are watching and learning and the things we do matter. Thank you Robyn for this post.
Good day challengers.
Today is a snowy one! Here in the mountains, we have had really mild weather since Christmas (where we had a week of -40, and frostbite could get you in minutes...no joke) But today I woke up and everything was quiet, and covered in a blanket of snow. When it snows, the mountains become hidden, and it gives me a funny feeling, as if the mountains got up and left! I know that discussing weather can be a boring topic, the most basic of small talk, but it is really one of my favourite discussions to be had. Anyhow, weather is not really the challenge today. Today I will discuss community and family, another of my favourite things to talk about. Growing up in a relatively big family, and on a street where there were so many kids, I think the idea of community, of neighbourship (I don't think that's a word, but it's fitting so we can let it be) was instilled in me at a young age. I grew up with a front door that was always unlocked, and in an area where suppers were shared. I remember when the pandemic first hit, one of the first things my Mother did was check in on our elderly neighbours, seeing if she could help them in any way. There's so many stories in my family, of helping out people to any extent they could. My parents doing work for people without pay, Bobby never passing by a person sitting on the ground without emptying his pockets and giving them whatever he could. When friends had no place to go, they were welcome at our place. That kind of thing. I don't say this to seem like I come from this Holier Than Thou family. Not at all, in fact, my family can be assholes sometimes! (Mom you can sensor that if it isn't family-friendly)
I actually say all this, because the way my family has tried to be of help to people whenever they can, is a direct reflection on the way people have treated us for my whole life. and maybe 'tried' isn't the right word, it's not an effort really, it's just what you do.
The best example I can think of, is one Christmas, probably around 2008, so I was maybe 10 years old. This was one of the years where my parents had no money for gifts. This is a reality for a lot of families, money can be tight and sometimes just not there at all. We came home from school one day to a large cardboard box on the front porch, full of wrapped gifts for my siblings and I. There was never a name on it, and if my Mom knew who dropped it off, she never told us. If that was you, and you're reading this, that was something that stuck with me for 15 years now. Thank you.
Point is, with a strong sense of community, knowing people will help you and look after you, it can only make you more aware of anyone who might need help, and by this, community grows. Waving to the neighbours and seeing all the familiar faces of the area I was always in is something I miss, but also something I try to add to in this new town. I like to chat to the locals, and people who live in my building.
Wow. Long tangent. What I meant to talk about was actually a small specific thing. My little libraries.
Hahaha! I can talk forever, I must get that from my Mom.
In Toronto, I know the Little Libraries are on every other street, but here in my town, I've found 3. One at the elementary school, one at the hockey rink, and one at the apartment building next to mine. There is also a food donation bin at the actual library, and my roommate and I have been lucky to be able to get bread and canned soup from there a few times.
One of the only ways I know how to repay kindness like this is through art. I'm sure more than half of the people that have found art I've left lying around are like 'what am I supposed to do with this?' but I believe in Art Everywhere. I know people have paid a lot of money for my art before, so the idea that it can be something I willingly part with, whether it be in thanks for donated food, or for no reason at all, it makes me feel like I am doing my part.
My outdoor challenge today is to go leave something at a little library. Extra book, art, canned soup, whatever.
Raynbow and Dana, since I'm sure it's a blizzard where you are, and a drive to the nearest anything, you are both exempt from the challenge today, but you are to complete this in June or July, whenever the snow has stopped.
Also bonus challenge, go wave at a neighbour or hold the door for someone.
Now GO! Robyn.