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Our local community connector – 92 year old Don

Blog #4, The Art of the Community Building #3


I moved into the neighbourhood of Maleny, Queensland in February 2020, just before COVID hit hard. My partner joined me the next year. We love it!


We particularly enjoy our daily walks to and through Mary Cairncross Forest, getting to know the rich ecology of trees, birds, paddymelons, fungi, and others who also jaunt regularly. As we make place through walking the streets, noticing more and more as we cultivate a practice of observation and listening, we feel a deeper sense of belonging and gratitude.


In the 10-minute street walk from our front door to the entrance of the forest we often pass other walkers who live on the street. But there’s someone special on the street. Don. {his real name is Don and we checked in with him if I could write about him}


Don is 92 years old and walks his little pup Kirby every day at about 6.45am. Over the two years, we have had endless conversations with Don. He always asks how we’re going. Early in our arrival in the neighbourhood he informed us he was a wood-worker, and he had just finished a beautifully crafted wooden key holder, which he wanted to give us as a gift. He explained that, ‘I do this for all the new neighbours’.


What a welcome!


We also noticed that as we turned the corner into the main street often there would be other people talking with Don. Then we’d find ourselves standing in a small group with Don and these others. People were meeting one another because of Don.


Another time, we mentioned we wanted to buy a new table, and before we knew it, we were collaborating with him in a week-long project hand-crafting a beautiful table; and another day he delivered a hand-made jewellery box for Rachael.


My point is, Don – who’s not a ‘community worker’ – is a natural ‘community connector’. He knows the art. He loves people - and here’s the truism, ‘those who love people build community, and those who love community destroy it’. He’s probably not even interested in community as such. He just loves checking in with people. He’s weaving the connections, facilitating the introductions, nurturing thin trust, feeding the gift economy. We learn from, and are inspired by Don.


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