Every week, our entire community gathers in the dining hall after lunch on Wednesday for community meeting.
This past week, I volunteered to lead the meeting.
Leading the meeting entails announcing the beginning of the meeting, and maintaining the order of the meeting, despite any heated discussion that may arise. Our meetings have three main parts: Issues/Awareness, which is our chance to bring up any issues to the community as a whole. No place is a utopia, and thus, issues are bound to come up. Luckily, the issues that are discussed are easily remedied, such as reminding people to be mindful of their noise levels during the evenings. Another issue brought up last week was that some people have been leaving the lights on, when they haven’t been in the buildings, or rooms. Given that we are all here to live a life of environmental stewardship, or care for the environment, everyone was very receptive, and seemed to understand the immediate necessity for change.
Sometimes, frustrations mount, such as when, for example, there was an issue with students littering during the fall semester. Given the level of commitment to environmental beliefs, tempers flared, when it was felt by some students that our natural surroundings weren’t being appropriately respected. After an open discussion with the members of community attending the meeting, the issue had been completely remedied.
The next section is announcements, and we get to hear about the numerous events happening in our area, such as Contra dances, or readings by faculty members.
The last section is appreciations.
During this time, as cookies are being distributed, students, faculty, and staff take turns sharing anecdotes of other community members going out of their way to help someone else.
This week, several students stood up to appreciate the entire community for being so supportive. There were also specific appreciations, such as appreciations of the students who devoted the past week to washing the dishes of our community, and those who cared for the animals during that same time.
Attending community meeting is a great opportunity to see the way in which Sterling is a truly cohesive community, and I cherish that.
I appreciate that we are small enough to gather in one place, and have each member of our community be heard.
I feel lucky that we are comfortable enough with each other to discuss issues directly and tackle everything head-on.
I also admire the fact that we end the meeting with sincere appreciations and emphatic applause.
A challenge I faced while leading the meeting was that I couldn’t see across the room well enough to see who was raising their hand to speak next. I overcame this challenge through the support of the community members who assisted me by telling me who was asking to speak next.
And this support is yet another thing I am grateful for.