Love Your Community!

Generally, we associate Valentines Day with romantic love. As Human Resource Manager, I think that romantic love should remain separate from the workplace. I however would like to talk about another type of love.

If you will indulge me, I would like to tell you about a group of people that I love. When my daughter started attending kindergarten at Hall Fletcher Elementary School in west Asheville I have to admit, like all young parents, I had some trepidation. Nevertheless, over the years I have grown to deeply care for the school and the people in it. I adore the teachers, staff, and administration. They have made a nurturing and inspiring environment for my daughter. I am continually impressed by their dedication to educate and care for all the children at that school. I love the children – especially those in the 5th grade whom I have seen grow up. In so many ways, these kids are just as adorable as they were in kindergarten. They always make me feel good when I see them. They come from all different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and economic groups, but they are sweet and kind, to each other and to me. I also feel affection for many of the parents and families of these children. Although I have not walked in all of their shoes, I have seen up close the beauty and the goodness of many of the people in this community.

It is my love for this school that has led me to work (with some very dedicated individuals) on plans for renovating the school’s kindergarten – second grade playground. We have big plans. We all get twinkles in our eyes when we think about the possibilities. We are brought back down to earth as we struggle to find funding in the current economic environment.

I believe it is because of love for the community that Equinox has donated significant amounts of volunteer time to help the school prepare for and create the master plan (below) for the playground. We started with public meetings that included community members, teachers, parents, and students. We asked students at the school to give us their own ‘designs’. We worked to incorporate all these wonderful ideas into a beautiful dream. Now it is my job to make that dream into reality. I recently had the opportunity of presenting this experience at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Charlotte. My presentation focused on the educational, sustainable and community building aspects of this playground renovation. During the presentation, I realized how proud I was of the accomplishments we had made in my community, even though we still have a long way to go.

It’s my hope that the feelings we have towards our loved ones can also be conveyed to our community. I believe it is this kind of love that can make real inroads toward positive change in our world. Let’s not forget love of neighbor during this Valentines Week!

Joyce Brown, Operations Manager, Equinox Environmental Consultation and Design, Inc.

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