August - Anni Becker

posted Sep 6, 2011, 8:55 PM by Rob Pollock
August Shared Vision Blog
Urban Abundance:

What does abundance mean to you?
What does an urban landscape filled with abundance look like?

Anni Becker says:

Have you ever walked by a neighbor's yard thinking they probably bit off more than they could chew?  Huge yard with several trees dripping with fruit, long grass, weeds everywhere...

 Sometimes life is like that.  People take on more than they can handle, and their figurative weeds get overgrown.  I can personally vouch for doing too much.  The quality of the work is just not the same when someone piles on project after project.   I am probably one of the worst offenders of this.  My addiction happens to be doing too much.  There are a couple of reasons why I have a hard time saying no to fundraising, event planning or pro bono photography work.  Sometimes it is to feel more connected to my community, therefore making me feel less alone in the world.  And sometimes I just love basking in the glow of love from the gratitude I receive.  It's a special feeling when you see the look in someone's eyes that you've helped in some way.  And then there are the times when these events become cumbersome and stressful because of the "too much" syndrome I've become accustomed to.  Or should I say, the world has become accustomed to. 

Everywhere you look there seems to be an overload of chores, errands and work.  Where is there time for life? 

With that being said, I've noticed that people are starting to understand the necessity of community sharing. 

John Fullerton, President and Founder of Capital Institute is quoted as saying, ‎"Our coming shift from quantity of consumption to quality of life is the great challenge of our generation—frightening at times, but ultimately freeing.”

Co-ops are a good example of this... child care, food, gardens, art studios... the list goes on and on.  In a world that is fast paced and full of so much "stuff", most of us need extra help.  Especially those with families to raise or elderly parents to care for.

I live in the heart of Uptown Village in the Hough Neighborhood of Vancouver.  When I moved into my house ten months ago, I was hesitant to share a house with three other adults and two children in the name of community sharing.  We were all in similar situations, needing a financially sensible living space.  It's had its challenges, but I feel very fortunate to live in a beautiful 100 year old house in a gorgeous neighborhood right down the street from local businesses and only about a mile from my work.

The first week we moved in, our neighbors brought over vegetables from their garden to share with us.  Since then, we've received pastry leftovers from the bakery down the street, art supplies (we are all creatively motivated), and even bags of clothes.  We've hosted community meals, art nights and movie nights.I've seen this occur throughout my neighborhood.  Outdoor movie nights, potlucks, clothing swaps, outdoor markets, vegetable bartering.  It's a growing trend that makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy.  Not only do these events and services make life easier, they create a sense of connection and ownership in the community.  I've seen people feel proud that they are actively contributing to the growth of the area they live without creating more "things".  It's more of a distribution of the leftovers, the extra.  Community sharing is a lot like gleaning.  Gleaning is an ancient practice that used to be done mostly by women.  Fruit or vegetables would be harvested for the year, and the leftovers would be left for the poor, mostly widows.    I just learned today that over 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year according to the Department of Agriculture.  That makes me sick to my stomach. 

Thank goodness there are organizations like Urban Abundance.  Last year I volunteered to help glean fruit trees for Urban Abundance.  I picked fruit that would ultimately be benefiting those I thought as less fortunate than me.  And then I realized something.  The people I was picking fruit for were no different than I was.  They probably were even a little better off than me in ways.  Lately I haven't seen myself as poor or lacking because this frugality is a lifestyle I've chosen for myself.  I am not the only one choosing this life,  I see it everywhere I go in my town. And it makes me proud. 

Living with less is liberating, it frees space in the soul for truly experiencing an ecstatic life.  When we aren't distracted by doing too much or having too much stuff, what are we left with?  Life.  And that's what really matters.

Anni Becker
Director of Grace Project
Freelance Photographer
Keeper of books