Going Local Isn’t Easy But So Far It Feels Right

About a year or so ago I decided that I needed to start being more intentional about being present in my community. I had found myself torn back and forth all over south western Ontario and it began to drain on me. I was running conferences in Toronto, networks with church plants all over the place, clients all over the place and I just realized that I needed to be committed to one area or I would just be spread to thin. So I quit the conference company, I’ve said no to the few speaking requests that would have me leave the city, I started blogging less and I picked up more clients right downtown.

This is a hard decision for me because I don’t like to miss out on things. I hate the fact that conferences are going to run without me helping organize them (like the one coming up in a few weeks in toronto). I want to be involved in every good idea there us. I want to be acknowledged as someone who has a lot to offer and to do that well you need to travel and get your name out there. It’s hard because I can so easily jump in a car and be in Toronto or London for the next big concert or conference and be part of all the great and big things happening in Toronto. I didn’t really realize how spread out I was until I started quitting all these things I was involved with. I just tried to stop caring about things outside of what I could participate in and give it my all. So I started coordinating the downtown Arts and Environment festival, biking more, sitting on the Internet less, got some chickens in my backyard, going to the farmers market, giving my time and focus to the local older Anglican congregation, focused more on gardening and making myself available to people downtown.

All of these things, if you asked me five years ago, were not on that radar. I wouldn’t have understood the purpose of them. They aren’t big or important enough. That to me is the issue. As I become more local and intentional about where I find myself, the words big and important no longer carry with them the weight that they used to have. In fact, now “big” and “important” has become adjectives with a negative connotation. I see no need for big anymore, I think its detrimental to true progress and change. The bigger something gets the less meaningful it becomes to me. If it gets even bigger, then it becomes something I purposefully go against. I blame this on my focus on being local. Being local has given me an appreciation for the unimportant and small so much so that I don’t see any other way forward.

Quotes that I’ve heard a million times like Mother Theresa saying “We can do no great things, only small things with great love” take on all new meaning to me. Any desires to change the world with one idea, or become famous, or to oppose the powers that be, or to vote in the right government are all failed attempts to try and control what I don’t like and find some type of validation in who I am. There is no room for these kinds of big ideas and big heads in a local environment. The only thing that is required of you is that you love the people you see everyday. It’s simpler. We don’t like that because it makes us feel like we aren’t doing anything, but that’s all that’s required.

My life now is less important. It’s less revolutionary. It’s less effective. It’s less meaningful. But I feel like an move towards this kind of living pushes back against a world that tells you you need to live a certain way to be important, revolutionary, effective and meaningful. According to the world these kinds of people are useless. Good thing the world doesn’t get to define those words for us. Every time I say no to something outside of my city. Every time I buy from a local restaurant instead of a franchise. Every time I choose to have someone over for dinner rather than skype a friend in another city. Every time I run a local event rather than a national one. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like it’s working. I feel like what I’m doing is more important than anything else I’ve done before. I feel like planting my garden in my front yard to meet my neighbours is more important than running a conference full of big name speakers.

My goal is to keep going in this direction. Less big, more small. This means cutting out more and more of my social Internet use and instead bringing more people in my house. Means cutting out more grocery shopping where the food comes from all over and instead getting it from my garden and the market. This means not finding truth just in big names speakers and authors but finding it in the people I run into downtown. This means the Internet will see less of me, or at least it will mean that I will see less of it. I hope I can keep doing it, but it’s a lot to give up, a lot of things that I have grown accustomed to. It feels good though. It feels right. So I’ll go with it.

3 Comments

  • I feel kind of weird writing a post, you probably had no idea that from time to time I actually read what you write! But I do (surprise)! Anyways, I just wanted to say that what you are doing has meaning. It probably has more meaning than you can even comprehend right now. And trying to live more local with spark movements and change that you will actually be able to see and experience with your own eyes in your own community! Lastly, I wouldn’t say that what you are doing is “smaller”; I would say that it is a different direction that is as equally big and important to the local people! Please keep up all your crazy local efforts, I appreciate them :)

  • Allison, you read my ramblings!! Haha, awesome, thanks for your comment, it’s encouraging!

  • 好むと好まざるに関わらず、肉体的にも精神的にも衰えが忍び寄る。何か事あれば、老いた身は、いったいどうすればいいのか。そして、どうなるのか映画は、見ていて辛い。

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