Why virtual? Why rec center? Why 608? Why now?

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Hello friends of the 608. If you are anything like me, the past 10 months have probably hurt you deep down in corners of your soul that you didn't even realize you had. There has been so much hurt, so much pain, so much hatred, and so much conflict. But if we are honest with ourselves, most of this hurt, pain, hatred, and conflict already existed far before we were all suddenly confined to quarantine or asked to wear masks in public. They were simply easier to see once propped up on the backdrop of a global pandemic. Seeing the suffering of so many play out on our iPhones and television screens every day battered and bruised even the most optimistic of us. It reminded those of us who were aware of the pain before the chaos of 2020 let loose, that hatred and fear were still, as they always have been, alive and well.

But as overwhelming as all of this brokenness and fear is, there is still hope. I, myself, don't always see examples of hope immediately when I look at the state of the world. As a quality assurance specialist by day, I am trained to see what is broken, but not necessarily how to fix it. Luckily for me, my husband, a HR specialist by day, is trained to see hopeful solutions. Without his perspective, I might have missed the glimpses of hope that surround all of us on a daily basis, especially over the past year. Sometimes they do feel tiny and fleeting, but they are there. And almost as if by magic, I've realized, the more you look for them, the more you see. Creativity, perseverance, love, and the mobilization of entire generations have been shining rays of light that have fought to peek through the clouds during this incredibly difficult time. We have seen change happen even when change felt impossible.

If I have learned nothing else from the past few years (especially the past 10 months), I've come to realize that hope stands on the shoulders of local individuals, organizations, and grassroots efforts. It thrives off of those who are crazy and brave enough to imagine a better world for themselves and for the generations that will come after us. There is beauty in those crazy, courageous, and imaginative souls. There is also wisdom. It is in those efforts that hope becomes tangible. It become impactful. It becomes sustainable. And it is on the shoulders of those who imagine a better world that we can stand and see the possibilities ourselves, high above the chaos below.

These local humanitarian efforts improve the lives of all people in our community. They provide food, shelter, and mentorship to those in need. They provide support and resources to those battling disease or difficult seasons in their lives. And they provide opportunities to historically under-served demographics of people within our communities. These efforts are what makes us who we are and what make the community and world that we all deserve to live in a possibility.

Of course, community feels far away when we are all confined to our homes. It makes us feel powerless to promote the change we need, it makes us feel isolated, and it makes that glimmer of hope feel further and further away each passing day. But, necessity breeds opportunity, as the saying goes. That need for connection and that desire to support the organizations that are keeping our community intact against all odds was how the concept of 608 was born.

Though we can't be together in person, we can still learn from each other, learn new things, and support one another. Just as a physical recreation center provides all sorts of ways to challenge the mind, body, and intellect to learn and grow, this virtual space will offer remote classes and activities to make sure that we are still learning and growing during this time. Additionally, just as community is built in the hallways of recreational and community centers, so too will it be built here. You can join groups to meet new people with similar interests, start clubs to explore these interests, and find common ground in a world where that very concept seems radical.

But we can't do this alone. None of us can. Being human is being a part of something bigger than ourselves. To move forward, we must all learn to lean in together. Community is built for all of us and by all of us. Please consider sharing this concept with others. It is my hope that we can use this platform to reach beyond our typical social circles and learn more about our community in the process. Thank you for visiting and for reading and may the coming year and beyond fill your life and our community with an abundance of hope and love.

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