Reflections on a Summer of Listening
A Guest Blog by Mariah Lang
This summer I worked on the We Have Each Other project with CommunityCare of Lyme. The project is loosely based on the Lyme Historians’ oral history of Lyme, We Had Each Other. For We Have Each Other, we want to hear how folks are doing now. Though I grew up here, I went into the job not knowing much about this community, and I left with an understanding of life in Lyme now, and life in Lyme past, that will stay with me for years to come.
For this project, we started by speaking with the older generation of Lyme. CCL’s hope was to create programming around needs and ideas, as well as to understand the important perspective on life in Lyme. So, I cold called my way through a list of community members, and a good mix of people were willing to share their experiences with me. I went into this project with the understanding that every person would bring their own range of perspective to my questions, and that every person was going to be different. I came out of this project with a great feeling of connectedness. Of course, we’re all different but what’s astounding is how similar we all are, too.
I think the best part, for me, was actually getting to have these conversations with people …
but a close second was getting to sort through the conversations after. When I sat down and listened to the interviews, I could imagine the stories as they were told. I could put myself into the situations of the people I spoke with and really, truly understand. To be able to understand someone’s experience with life in Lyme, and add it to my own experiences makes the community that much more vibrant. I know Lyme better now, because I know the people who live here better now.
This was all a learning experience, and I want to thank everyone who chatted with me for taking the time to sit down and learn this process with me. Some of these folks were among the first that I have ever interviewed, and I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but it was eye opening (and quite the adventure, too!). I learned so much about community, memories, aging, Lyme, and how utterly important it is to have one another.
If I could give one piece of advice that I learned from this project, it would be this:
say “hello” to your neighbors. If you don’t know them, get to know them. Approach everyone with a smile, because sometimes that’s just what other people need to see. Plus you’ll be happier that way too. In order to understand your community, become a part of your community. And please, just listen to one another. The betterment of a community lies within our stories and our experiences.