A couple weeks ago our good friends Justin and Paula welcomed their first son, Francisco, into the world. Becky and I managed to stop by and visit them last weekend to extend our welcome, and during the visit we were honored to accept the responsibility of being little Francisco's godparents! Prior to Elijah joining our family, I didn't really have much experience with the care and handling of these small human beings we call "babies". Heck, I changed my first diaper EVER in the hospital after Elijah's birth with what could be described as a "deer in headlights" look on my face. However, I've come a long way since then, and I held my new godson like a pro.
Prior to our arrival Justin texted me and asked if I would be able to bring my truck when we came over. (Side note: I purchased my truck secondhand, it's fully paid for, and I have a lofty goal of handing it off to Elijah when he starts driving - only 15 years to go...) I've had my Tacoma for a few years now, and I knew when I bought it what I was signing up for: I was going to become the friend with a truck. Some truck owners may find this role frustrating, but I don't mind because helping my friends is something that feeds my soul, and it's one way I have for "paying it forward".
As it turns out, Justin needed my and my truck's assistance for picking up an awesome Craigslist purchase for their home. Justin found a nice patio furniture set at a bargain price relative to what he would have paid at a big-box store for an equivalent product. The great thing about this purchase is that this patio furniture set is much more than just machined and welded metal used for sitting on and dining outdoors. It is a key element in enabling Justin and Paula to do something that they are quite passionate about - build community.
What does it mean to build community? There's plenty of organizations, clubs, groups, etc. out there with a mission, in part, to build a community of people around a shared set of ideas or a common bond. Having relationships with others in a community fulfills a fundamental human need. The way in which our friends are trying to build community hits right at home, literally. In most neighborhoods, it is very common to see patio furniture set up on the back porch/patio of a house rather than the front porch. When furniture is set up in the backyard, there is also often a nice wooden fence surrounding it to isolate all conversation and gatherings away from the neighbors. This arrangement many times can prevent a family from even knowing who their neighbors are. Isn't it amazing that we can live for years next door to someone whose name we don't even know, let alone rarely see them?
Justin and Paula have intentionally put this furniture set in the front yard of their home. The belief is that if you bring your life outside your home and intentionally visible to your neighbors, they will follow suit and possibly even spend time and have conversation with you. What a better common bond to build community around than the bond you share with those living on a slice of earth right next to your own!
To close out, you may be curious what the numbers look like for this Craigslist find. Justin paid $140 for the full set that included 4 chairs, a table, and a large canvas umbrella. From my research I have concluded that he would have spent approximately $500 for a similar set purchased brand new (~$400 for the chairs/table and ~$100 for the umbrella).