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Posts Tagged ‘community’

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Last year, around Lorenz0’s first birthday, a mom I’d met at the park and I set up a playroom area at the local library.

In winter or in bad weather it can be a bummer to have to stay inside the house the whole afternoon, or the whole day if you are an SAHM. It’s nice to invite other mom’s and kids over to your place but that means cleaning up before and after and it’s not always practical, particularly if you don’t know them very well.

We thought it would be nice to have a “neutral” place where the kids could play together and the moms could hang out. I’m sure moms out there in blogland agree on this one, having someone to talk to that you can relate to it’s very comforting.

The mom I met at the park is a teacher, but she didn’t know how to go about it. I told her I knew the Mayor and I could ask if he could give us a room. He sent me to talk to the librarian and she came up with the idea to have the playroom right above the library in a sort of loft.

At the beginning it was just a few moms, a couple times it was only me and Lorenzo, but little by little other moms with kids started joining and now we a have a big group that gets together every Monday afternoon to hang out, play together and have tea and snack.

It’s funny how things just kind of grow by themselves, it takes a small initial effort but once it’s rolling it just keeps going.

It’s the initial effort that makes the difference, I wonder how many moms in this town before us sat at the park and thought

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place we could go to where the kids could play together and the moms could chill and talk…”

It was the right time and the right place of course, still I think that if we want some things to happen we have to make them happen.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” J.F.K

How are you making a difference in your community?

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It all started around September last year when my Italian sister-in-law (devoted mother of two of the rowdiest nephews in the world) asked me if I could teach the boys some English. That way they could, if ever the opportunity arises, talk to their cousins in Canada and communicate with people that every now come to visit who might not speak Italian.

Every Friday afternoon we meet at 5pm for an English lesson at my place, right in my livigroom. At first it was only us, then a friend with two children started coming, another mom came with her little girl for a while, and we had our newest entry in December last year, Laura and her mom. Of course Lorenzo is a regular and sometimes Tony, my sister’s kid comes too.

We go over the days of the week, the months of the year, the colors, the numbers, some verbs, we read a story and we sing a song. Then we have a snack, the moms take turns to bring the snack, and later the children play together.

I started getting some English children’s books and one of the moms lent us hers. Claire had sent me a few for Lorenzo and we are using one of them to learn the ABC’s. The local libraries don’t have English books, and if they do they are far from where we live. So the idea of having a little library with English books  for children was born.

“The Little Library” because when we started out we had 4 books.

One thing led to another and I thought it would be nice to be able to teach English and read stories not only to the 7 children that come to the lesson on Friday, but also to children who can’t afford English lessons or don’t have the opportunity because their parents work or they don’t have the means to get around.

It’s still in the works but the idea is to take Lorenzo, a few books, some flashcards and a blanket and go to the park and have a little English lesson right there and then. For no other reason than to create community, offer a service, spend time outdoors and do something different.

I told Loris about it and he laughed. He always laughs at me but then he said it’s a good idea. He even offered to make me a little wooden wagon to put the books and educational materials inside. I’m very excited about this project especially because it’s something I can do with Lorenzo.

Oh and I discovered that there are some wonderful people who go around with their bookmobile and promote reading. Take a look at some of the stories. I liked the one of the man in Colombia who goes around with his two donkeys to brings books to people who live in remote areas.

My project will be a sort of bookmobile with storytelling combined. Here are some of our favorite books:

“The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown

“Our Dog” by Helen Oxenbury

“We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

“Toot and Puddle: Puddle’s ABC” by Holly Hobbie

If you have any book suggestion for our little collection let me know!

I’ll keep you updated! 

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I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Minimalist Guy, thanks Darren.

I’ll answer the questions:

1)What was the one thing that brought you to minimalism?
Well, when I discovered I was going to become a mom I thought it would be nice to stay home with baby and that introduced me to the world of frugalism and minimalism.

2)What has the greatest recognized benefit in your life since starting your minimalist path?
I just started my minimalist journey, I’m new at this but one of the benefits I encountered right away was having less means cleaning less 🙂

3)What is your favorite smell?
Fresh-cut grass

4)If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be and what is keeping you from going?
I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life, right now probably because I’m almost 9 months pregnant I don’t feel like traveling much. The only place that comes to mind right now is visit my friend Claire in the States but not because I want to visit the States but because I would like to see her.

5)How have you been cheating on your future by thinking about your past?
That’s not really an issue in my life 😀

6)What situation in your life turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
Getting pregnant when I did; it allowed me to finish night school.

7)What’s in your junk drawer, if you have one?
I used to work with children so I have not only a drawer but a whole closet full of art&crafts I don’t use at the moment but will in the near future.

8)When was the last time you stepped outside the box to do something, what was it?
I organized a mini Christmas concert with a few of my classmates and we performed in front of the whole student body. That was fun!

9)What is your middle name?
I don’t have a middle name

10)What are your next minimalist goals?
My boyfriend is not a minimalist so my goal is to introduce him to minimalism a little bit at the time.

I won’t nominate anybody but since the whole purpose of award passing is to meet new bloggers and make friends, I will invite you to visit a few “new” bloggers in Blog Land so we might welcome them in the neighborhood.

Born To Work Minimum Wage This guy makes history interesting. Check him out!

The Great French Adventure an Australian student in France, her photography is amazing!

Freedom For Life a photo blog, this guy has been around for about two years but he might need a little nudge to encourage him to post more regularly 🙂

Magic and Crochet Hook if you like crocheting she’s a real pro.

Never Go South this is my sister’s blog, she’s a traveler, a photographer, a story-teller, a gardener, an artist and I personally love her writing style.

And of course visit Darren and find out how he’s doing on his personal minimalist journey.

Have a great day!

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A few days ago I was looking up some articles on blogging on the net and I came across a whole series of “how to have a successful blog” and I read some of them. It’s always interesting to see how other people are doing things.

But then it got me thinking “Is a blogger with just a few followers not successful? Is it successful only if it makes money?”

The reason why I blog is not to make money but I think I’m successful nevertheless, first of all because I get to write, I get to share stories, I meet people, I have a little corner in cyberspace that’s all mine. That’s success enough for me.

Somehow we are lead to believe that money equals success, but I think success is getting to do what you love.

I have a little garden and last year we harvested tomatoes and lettuce in the summer and chicory in the winter. It never crossed my mind that our little garden wasn’t successful. But apparentely it is, since we never made a penny out of it.

And of course the same goes for likes and followers. It’s not about numbers, at least it shouldn’t be. It should be about building community, that’s what success is really all about.

I’ll leave you with a paragraph from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get an idea of that house at all. You have have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $20,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”

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A few days ago I went to visit a family of four children whom I met when I first came back to Italy. It was the Fall of 2010 and we spent an afternoon together in an olive orchard picking olives, that’s how we met. They come from Macedonia and I used to go visit them a lot during that time because I missed Eastern Europe and having coffee and tea with them made me feel less nostalgic.

They live in the neighboring town and I don’t get to see them very often, but last week I knew they were home from school and so I took a package of cookies and went over to their house.

They have a very simple house, tiny and clean, with carpets in every room, even in the kitchen. They made tea and the older girls sat on the carpet at my feet and we talked. They told me about school and friends and what their hopes are for the future.

Hulya is 17 years old. She wants to travel the world, she wants to go to New York, Argentina and London (in that order). She studies Spanish as a second language at school and likes it a lot. She hates Math because she doesn’t understand it even if she tries to. She doesn’t want to have a boyfriend right now because it would interfere with her studies, but she wants to get married with a Muslim guy “it’s easier if we have the same religion” she said. She would love to go to university but doesn’t know if her family can afford it. Next year she will be 18 and can get her driver’s license but she is “scared of driving” she said laughing.

Melek is 15, she is studying to become a hairdresser, she had to pass a test to get into that school and she passed with the highest score, she’s very proud of that! She likes her school and has new friends but like her sister she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she wants to wait.

They both expressed concern over the situation in Syria and the terrorist attacks in France; and we also discussed the possible future of the immigrant refugees from Libya that arrived last week to the coasts of Sicily.

“We don’t even have job opportunities for us, what can we offer these poor people” they said and by “us” they meant “Italians” because they feel Italian, they were born and raised here, this is their country after all.

“When your baby is born can your bring him over? We’ll help you take care of him” Hulya said and Melek nodded. I said I would love to.

Two hours later I was going back home and thinking that if we are really going to work for peace and culture integration, especially now that tension is growing and barriers are being put up between people, the best way we can go about it is by talking and having tea together.

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