By Shaun Burnett, Community Builder in Ayrshire & Arran. November 2015.
New in post clueless and still wet behind the ears I met Dave. We were sat out in the smoking area of the community centre going through my “stock questions”.
· What are you good at?
· What do you care about?
It felt amateur but it had purpose – and youthful enthusiasm.
Dave offered his love of building things, building anything. Dave is a dad that goes under the radar , a local handy man and one of those blokes who can just build stuff. We chatted a bit more and went our separate ways. Over coming months we’d bump into each other and talk about building things.
One day out of the blue got this message from his partner – almost 10months after our first conversation!!
“Kids companion set made from old bed latts…good innit”
As a Community Builder you can’t help but be excited by this stuff! Particularly kids companion chairs built from recycled wood in someone’s back garden! The message come in at 10.20PM but I could have literally chapped their door straight away!
I refrained. Until morning.
The question really…. What next? A quick chat and I dropped off £50 for Dave to buy some wood.
Within days Dave had built his first companion chair and picnic bench, dropping them in with the School. Next step another local parent, a teaching assistant and some kids helped paint and seal the finished work.
Not wanting to stop there …Dave wanted to keep building. Another £50 and Dave built these…
3 More pieces gifted to the community centre, a place where his kids enjoy spending time.
In itself I find this journey particularly inspiring to be a part of but as I reflect there are some significant things to take away….
· Things take time…. “you can only go at the speed of trust” quite literally this journey took around 10months. Was it worth it? Absolutely. There is no wasted time where building trust is concerned.
· Everyone has a gift – some remain invisible – but start with a conversation, who knows what you’ll discover. Even as a newbie. Even with a slightly rigid questioning technique. Its amazing what you’ll discover!
· Community building is an art. It takes time to build the confidence, the rapport and to really be conversational. I think the skills in an intentional learning conversation are finding your natural style and to have fun!
· The receiver is as important as the gift giver. Without supporting recipients of a gift where would we be! A back garden with 5 bits of garden furniture. The connection of the gift and receipt build even more trust amongst residents.
· Gifts change labels or even add labels. Dave’s story has spread across the community. He is now the guy who built the tables in the School. His skills are recognised.