Joy of Sharing by Ashleigh Bynum

Last weekend I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Joyce Marin, the Executive Director of RenewLV, a community development organization locate here in the Lehigh Valley. Over breakfast, we discussed some of the ‘happenings’ of the Valley, in terms of community development, and our passions- what drives us to want to work in the community.

In speaking about why she loves her work, Joyce mentioned the joy of sharing.  She spoke about intentional communities, neighborhood gardens, and creating spaces for community members to engage with one another– all different opportunities for people to share pieces of their lives with one another.

During our conversation she asked, “Ashleigh, what brings you joy?” I shared with her my passion for writing and expressing my thoughts on paper and sharing them with others. She then mentioned her passion for gardening, how she’s been able to share that with some of her friends, and how they’ve bonded over the pastime.

As she was speaking I had a revelation about what it means to share our passions. By sharing something we love, we let people engage an intimate part of ourselves. While the act of writing or gardening may not be the most intimate thing we could share, they speak to a very vulnerable piece of us- things that bring us joy.

Once someone is made aware of what brings you joy, or hurt, they become are privy to celebrate and suffer with you. Thus, being vulnerable enough to share something as trivial as our pastimes open the door for relationships to grow.

In thinking about community development strategies and what it means to change our communities, I think that it is my responsibility to create spaces in which people can be vulnerable enough to share what brings them joy.

What brings you joy? How can you share that with your community?

Ashleigh is a student in the MA in Urban Studies with a concentration in Community Development.  She is an alumni of Mission Year and began her studies at Eastern University this fall (2013).

1 Comment

  1. Whitney Monn
    Feb 17, 2014

    My husband and I find great joy in fresh foods and gardens, so over the last few years, we have cultivated a larger garden in our backyard that we intentionally planted in cooperation with our neighbors- two that have helped us choose what to plant and with care. We share the harvest with several of our neighbors, and it has been a great experience.

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