When Enterprise was awarded eight $5,000 grants from the Fetzer Institute to be used for love and forgiveness based events, I had a little trouble explaining to the local team what this meant. It turned out to be a question of semantics though, and we moved to framing the question of love in the context of value. What surfaced through this conversation was the importance of valuing oneself, and that this is a prerequisite to being a parent, child, employee, employer, teammate, neighbor, and human who is loving and forgiving. One step further, we asked ourselves how we acknowledge value, or skills and talents, across cultures in the United States. The answer was in the simple phrase, “You are good at…..” or “I am good at…..”
Based on the discovery of GOODat, and the possibility for spreading love that it brought, we began planning the third annual Baptist Town Community Day around a theme of asking and showcasing what the residents of Baptist Town are good at. We asked each other in meetings, “What are you good at?”, and my co-planner Carl Winters and I asked people as they walked, drove or biked down the street, “What’s your GOODat?” Sometimes people were uncomfortable with the question, sometimes they had lengthy answers, but what became clear is that the residents of Baptist Town (and Greenwood) are GOODat a lot things.
Activities throughout the day were planned around the responses to, “What’s your GOODat?”, and as we finished setting up, neighborhood kids were already showing how good they are at jumping and playing. After that, the day officially kicked off at 11 and residents began to visit booths set up by the Leflore County Health Center, the WIN Job Center, and the Harvard Community Development Project. At each booth, important information was available, as well as raffle tickets for door prizes. The cost of a raffle ticket? Answering the question, “What are you GOODat?”
Face painting also began at this time, and Keyauna Gatston showed her artistic skill throughout the day.
The most common answer to the GOODat question was “cooking”. Residents volunteered to cook and serve chicken, ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, cole slaw, and fruit. Willie Fisher, shown below, began manning the grill at 8 AM and was still serving up chicken and ribs when I left in the evening.
While lunch was being prepared, the DJ opened up the mike to anyone interested in sharing a musical talent. Lady Trucker, a professional singer, got the crowd dancing with her music, and she was followed by a praise dance by a local teen.
There was about an hour of rain in the afternoon, but few people left the event, and stayed to enjoy afternoon activities including art, bingo, a cake walk, more face painting, the inflatables and the new playground. Rosalind Wilcox led the art activities and created house numbers and name plates for residents to attach to their homes, while many residents painted their own sign boards.
While many resident shared what they are GOODat through activities, others wrote on the GOODat chalkboard (to be hung in the neighborhood community center when it is complete), shared their stories of growing up in Baptist Town with the event videographer Dash Brown, or included their skills as a door prize in the form of a GOODat gift certificate. Raffle winners could choose from a hair cut, nail art, dance lessons, or car detailing from their entrepreneurial neighbors.
Throughout the day and the planning process, I was impressed with the many volunteers who shared their time and efforts and the support from the greater Greenwood community (especially the City Public Works Department). As we asked each other, “What’s your GOODat?”, I believe we were acknowledging that we are all valuable, and that was the magic of the day: each individual and what they contribute to the community by simply showing up.