Gathering together to listen to each other’s experiences is a crucial component of building community.

As I wrote about a couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to visit with an old high school friend who now lives in Connecticut.

As a part of the visit I was treated to a tour of the lovely village and the surrounding area.

On the tour he pointed towards a building and referenced it as being the building in which the town meeting occurred. I stopped him and asked if he meant that this is an historic building in which town meetings once took place? Surely he didn’t meant that the entire village still gathered once or twice a year for an actual town meeting.

My question derived from the fact that all across New England, villages and towns have moved away from the historic town meeting. To my thinking this has been a great loss not only for the village involved, or for the New England region, but a loss for us as a nation. Perhaps too strong a sentiment and yet…

Any form of governing that invites all within the community to come together as neighbors, debate the issues at hand, and then decide as a collective what is best for the commonwealth seems to me to be a great form of governing.

As it turns out, in my friend’s town governance is still conducted through the reasoned debate of a town meeting. Which brings me to Braid.

From the beginning Rebecca and I have been aware that our mentors and facilitators are gaining an incredible cache of knowledge about our youth and their “family systems.” They are in “the trenches” as it were – we know that some weeks it literally can feel like “the trenches” – and therefore have a library of information of life in that particular world.

This is why the weekly check-ins with facilitators are so important: the facilitator is able to share their team’s learnings each week when they meet with us. This helps us make decisions based on what actually is and not what we imagine to be. This is important because each team and each experience is so unique.

However, there are two occasions when we – that is, Braid – gather for town meetings:

One is monthly team meetings, which functions as a team’s town meeting. It is the occasion you all come to the table with your team facilitator and discuss and debate and design how to move forward for the commonwealth.

The second is the monthly All-Braid Events. Rebecca and I look forward to these events because we get to be with our volunteers. It is a time during which we love to hear about your life and your experience with Braid and what ideas you have designed from your experience.

It may not qualify as a town meeting exactly, but it is where we get to gather with you and others and listen. Of course we are always available through phone and email, but there is power in being present and being together and holding sacred space for all to be heard.

It is how we can continue to serve the commonwealth.

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