There’s a Bible story that I loved in Sunday School. It goes like this: when Moses was wandering in the desert after they left Egypt, he sent a dozen scouts into the promised land. Their job was to see if the land was good, look for dangers and opportunities, and come back with a report. When these scouts returned, they told about the lush fertile farms, the huge grape clusters, a land truly flowing with milk and honey. They also were scared. They saw people like giants and felt like they would be crushed like grasshoppers by their powerful soldiers. This place was a no-go, they all said. Well, not all. There was one who saw things differently and in spite of the fears of the group, he said they should “go there at once.” Clearly he saw something the others did not.
I liked this story because it had all the makings of an adventure. Scouts going ahead to look for danger, and by their word, determining the fate of their people. Here’s what captured my attention the most; while they all ‘looked’ at the same things, they really did not ‘see’ the same thing. For some, the eyes of fear and dread made them see a future with fear, while the one scout saw possibility, and a bright future for his people.
Every day we look at the same city, stop at the same intersections, drink from the same water source, and pass by the same schools and grocery stores. We each look at the same place, but we can easily see a different set of possibilities. Neighbourhood scouts are those who step into their neighbourhood with an eye for what is possible, what is good, and imagine what can happen. A pandemic and all the loss associated with it can strike fear into even the most optimistic person. Neighbourhood scouts do not overlook or dismiss these challenges, rather they see the story with a different ending. Neighbourhood scouts are on a mission to find what is possible.
Neighbourhoods need scouts, those who will go ahead and find the peaceful and good thing over the horizon. Many of us would be paralyzed if our only view on the world was a stream of immediate and dreadful news stories. Scouts get out and get on with finding a way forward for our community. They see the way that a new business could start, a social enterprise could get off the ground, a school could heal, or an economic problem resolved. Scouts are on the hunt and are ready to report the whole story, while looking for a way through. They see what others might not, for the benefit of all.
You can be a neighbourhood scout. You can join a community group that needs to shape a better future. The food bank, historical foundation, church, school council, business groups or kids clubs all need new eyes to see a way forward. You can read about other communities who are finding solutions to problems. Here in Alberta Doug Griffiths wrote, “13 Ways to Kill Your Community” which is full of stories for making our cities better places. Neighbourhood scouts can tackle challenges by banding together. Right now there is a group of people who are trying to save the golf course from development, you might find other challenges that need this kind of attention. You might want to help a neighbour with a yard project and help them see the beautiful things they can plant and grow, or help a neighbour kid with her new hobby. Scouts see the small good things right in front of them.
Chestermere needs neighbourhood scouts who see the horizon with hope and invite others to see a better future with them too. To all the scouts: thank you for helping us find a way when others say there is none. We need you.