Read Paul Born's latest book:
Read Paul Born's latest book:
I was in Baden this past weekend to visit my parents. It was a great chance to catch up with my family, get some rest, relaxation and free food (and also to get in some road hockey with the neighbourhood kids). On Saturday morning my Aunt Cheri invited me to come check out a community art project she was part of.
Not really knowing what I was getting myself into I hopped on my sister’s bike and headed down to the local community center enjoying the warm sun and fresh spring air. I had seen the community center being built from afar and once came to the soccer field to cheer on my sister but I had never been inside the building. What I found was a huge complex full of ice rinks, swimming pools and even a walking track. I was impressed. Today the place was full of a buzz of activity with people rushing around setting up table and carrying baskets and boxes of stuff.
It was at this point that I realized there was much more happening then a community art projects. Vendors were setting up exhibits everywhere highlighting different community groups and initiatives. Next thing I knew, I found myself rushing around visiting different stalls doing dances, tai chi, drinking strange concoctions and attempting to toss corn bean bags, all to collect signatures so I can climb in a fire truck, a life long dream of mine that I discovered that morning.
With each exhibit, I had the opportunity to meet people and hear their stories. First I met Phil, a martial arts massage therapist yoga counselor who wants to help people find happiness, who recently moved to Baden with his family because he felt it was a great place to raise his kids. There is water all over the ground as he teaches a group of eager kids a Chinese tea dance.
I wandered upstairs to discover CORN, and a group of kids tossing beanbags in the shape of … you guessed it, corn, at a cut out corn cob person. They made it look easy and I thought if kids can do this, with all my age and experience, this should be a snap… twenty-five bean bag tosses later, I think the group took pity on me and signed my sheet anyways. It turns out that this group is the famous Baden Community Association, a group of local residents who are working to build relationships and a sense of connection among people who live in Baden. Very cool!
Downstairs again I answered a series of trivia questions about HIV/AIDS, at the ACCWA table. As they sign my sheet they explain to me that though it is often seen as an African disease there are people here within the Wilmot community who live with this reality every day. ACCWA provides information and supportive community of friends for them.
I finished off the day with a chicken burger made for me by the local municipal councilors and their “big turkey” (mayor) and sat and chatted with my new friend Phil and my Aunt who had helped me release my inner artist earlier in the day, though I still think it just looks like a blob of random colours.
I never did get a chance to climb in the fire truck (I guess that item on my bucket list will have to wait). But, what I got instead was much more. I had a chance to meet awesome people and hear their stories of what they are doing to make the world better and build community here in Baden.
Building community in a bedroom neighbourhood like Baden is often very difficult as people get drawn into the city, but if the people I met this past Saturday are any indication, Baden is heading in the right direction.