The Power of Community

When I began my plant based journey almost two years ago, I entered into unfamiliar territory, alone. I had the books of Anthony William to guide me as I made changes. And soon Greg and my mom joined me by shifting their diets as well. We were a tiny band of plant based eaters.

The Power of Community

Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.”

I’ve learned these past 23 months just how crucial it is to be surrounded by a group of like minded people, who are headed in the same general direction. I’ve found an amazing online health-minded community, on Instagram. We encourage each other every day, posting photos of our glasses of celery juice and the latest healthy recipe we’ve tried. We ask each other questions and reach out for help if the day is rough. I greatly value the input of each person and make sure I communicate frequently with as many people as I can. Although we are scattered around the world, we have figuratively locked arms and we are walking each other home.

The Power of Community

I thought that online health community might be the only one I could find. How beautiful it has been to be led to others in the Joplin area who are on a similar journey.

I met Robin Jeep several months ago, when she invited me to join a group of people and watch the documentary Eating You Alive at the local movie theater. I was excited about the invitation. I wanted to see the film, but I was even more excited to connect with others in my area who have embraced a plant based lifestyle. It turned out I knew several people who attended the documentary that night.

Robin, who is a plant based chef and founder of the Vibrant Living Society, has been great to offer classes, educating people on the difference a change in diet can make in improving health. This evening she hosted a plant based potluck dinner. Everyone contributed to the meal. I cut up a watermelon, one of my favorite summertime meals, and shared it. Robin demonstrated making a plant based lasagna that we sampled. It was delicious!

We had planned to watch the film Forks Over Knives together. That didn’t happen tonight. Instead, we got to know each other. Some in the room have been plant based for several years or more. Some switched two months ago. Two have completed three weeks so far, eating more fruits and veggies. And some have not yet made the full commitment, but they are curious and open.

And we shared stories. They ranged from wanting to heal to in the process of healing to full healing. I appreciated the earnestness and sincerity of everyone there. I held those who are just beginning their healing journeys, or who stand on the edge of taking that leap, with great compassion. And I applauded, literally, those who have turned their lives around.

I look forward to being part of this growing, healing, questing community, in my own hometown. We are strengthening each other.

The Power of Community

Day 100: Circles


I am amazed to be blogging about my 100th new experience since January 1 of this year. I know I’m not quite one third of the way through the year yet, however, doing the 100th first today marks a milestone. It has been an exciting and rewarding 100 days. And it seems very fitting that for my first today, I attended a meeting about an amazing organization that is new to Joplin.

My good friend, Garen, posted an invite on his facebook page this past week about tonight’s informative event. My sister Linda saw it and told me about it and Garen emailed me to invite me as well. It seemed a perfect first for today. I had heard only a little bit about this organization and was eager to learn more.

Circles is a national initiative in which people from different social-economic groups cross barriers in the fight to end poverty in their communities. I loved that poverty was defined as not being about lack of money, but about lack of relationships and education. It’s not about people fixing other people, but rather about walking with another during a particular time in their lives. It’s about the journey and building relationships. Circles is not a hand out, or a hand up, but a hand reaching across to another person.

Ryan Melton, Joplin’s Circles Director, shared with us tonight about the launching of Circles in Joplin. Our community has learned much about coming together and helping each other to rebuild Joplin after the tornado of May 2011. This is a natural continuation of community growth and outreach that will equip families to resolve poverty and thrive. According to their website, Circles has the following objectives:

·   Mobilizing families to achieve economic stability through the long-term and consistent support of peers and volunteers from the community

·   Developing the leadership of people moving out of poverty to inform community-wide solutions to addressing poverty

·   Addressing the community and program barriers faced by families trying to move out of poverty

Local classes meet weekly for 20 weeks. Participants get in touch with their dreams and set goals to reach those dreams. Allies are a crucial part of the program. These volunteers are available to meet weekly with Circles Leaders (those who are participating in the group) to help them meet their goals. They continue as allies after the classes end. There are also Teams that assist with everything from setting up the meeting room and providing meals to discussing ways to work through barriers that keep people stuck where they are. 

I was very moved by the quality of this initiative and thrilled that it is here in Joplin. There was an excellent video with local people sharing how they have been encouraged and helped by Circles.  I signed up to receive information about becoming an Ally. I’m all about journeying alongside others, for a long time, for a short time, and offering our best to each other. On our placemats at dinner tonight was the quote, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” As a community, we will grow and become stronger as we reach out to those in need, and journey with them as allies. We will all be warmed by the light of our efforts.


Learn more about Circles here:



Day 36: Meet My Neighbor


I remember when I was a kid, the neighborhood really was a community. We all knew each other and watched out for each other. Swarms of kids roamed from house to house. Moms chatted over a cup of coffee or borrowed some necessary ingredient for a cake. In the evenings whole families gathered for horseshoes and cook outs and cold drinks.

I’m not sure when that culture changed. I barely know my neighbors. I wave at the family across the street. I know my neighbors to the north. They’ve been here longer than I have. And yet I barely speak to them, as wonderful as they are. The house to the south is empty and has been since May 22, 2011. The tornado that hit Joplin tore through my neighborhood. The houses on my side of the street, though battered and damaged, remained standing. The houses across the street, and beyond, were all destroyed. Many of my neighbors left that day, never to return. There are still empty lots on my street. And there are new houses and new neighbors too, that I have yet to meet.

Today, choosing to stay at home because of icy roads in Joplin, I pondered what my first would be for the day. My planned activity would need to wait because of the weather. As I was looking through my list, and opening myself to possibilities, the first literally came to me.  He knocked on the door. One of my goals for this year is to meet each of my neighbors whom I’ve not met before. I see them outside and I wave and smile. And yet I don’t know their names or what they do or what brings joy or sorrow into their lives. I intend to change that. And to get to know better the neighbors I have met and lived beside for years.

How amazing when a first appears for you, at the perfect time. My neighbor and I chatted. He had observed that a little family of stray cats had been eating on my front porch and he laughed when he saw that they now live in my house! It is very cold, after all, and my soft heart couldn’t bear for them to be outside. He offered cat food, at a greatly reduced price. How thoughtful. He had even written down the kinds of cat food he had available and how much of it.

I am ready to be more a part of my neighborhood. The tornado didn’t take that away from me. I have denied myself the pleasure of being in community. I am thinking of ways to connect with my neighbors. And I look forward to introducing myself to everyone. One neighbor met….six more to go!