Stop Asking How

How can someone toss a beer can off the ski lift onto the beautiful white snow down below?

How can that woman flip a cigarette butt out her car window like that? What is she thinking?

Every one of those questions comes from a place of anger and disgust. Emotionally-charged vents come from a place of no belief that things could be different. I’ve asked those questions, shaking my head, but they are questions that aren’t expecting an answer. We lament, we sigh and we share our disappointment with anyone who will listen. Yet it does nothing to make us feel any better, or believe that change is possible.

This morning, I asked a different question when I came across post-4th of July debris. Walking through an otherwise well-manicured and lush public park, I saw firework launch containers and rods, beer cans and bottles, and Maverick super-size soda cups littered everywhere.  As I went to get bags to pick up the trash I asked myself a different question.

WHAT WILL IT TAKE for individuals to care for and steward communities, whether they are residents or visitors?  What will people need to believe, feel or be assured of in order to do so?

People will need to feel connected to the community. They will need to believe that they are part of something far larger than themselves.

People will need to have access to the outdoors, and the many existing community assets.  People will need to be out in the community in order to learn to appreciate and care for it.

People will need to believe it is their responsibility to keep their community clean, whether they created a mess or not. To do nothing means that it’s “ok” in our community.

People will need to be assured that fellow community members have shared values and beliefs about the community. This is only possible if they get to know each other, and take the time to develop trust.

When different conversations ripple out in the community, they can become the new norm.  When different questions are asked, they can open the space to engage, connect and care about each other and the community. What will you need to believe in order to ask a different question?




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