Storytelling has been going on since our ancestors could first communicate. Tribe members would sit around the fire and hear stories about their distant relatives, helping give them a sense of their roots along with what values were lived out and lessons learned before they came along. And in case the stories would be forgotten, they were retold and retold to sustain the understanding or bring new understanding from whence they came and a light provided for where they were evolving.
In writing the book, “The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time,” Bob George and I were called to tell the town’s story. We knew this time it would not be a novel as Bayard Taylor had chosen to depict the characters and goings-on in Kennett in the 19th century. Instead, it would be a collection of real-life stories that drew on the living philosophy of “bridging a community “in a peaceful, progressive and inclusive manner at the beginning of the 21st century.
In the past twenty years, Kennett Square has made a huge transition from a sleepy small town to a home for several Corporate Headquarters. At the same time, many agricultural workers from Mexico and Guatemala have also made Kennett their home. It is no accident that the quality of small-town living continues and the story of “bridging” is the backdrop of that story.
Once upon a time in 1998, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens sat down one day and asked what was needed to preserve the spirit of the town of Kennett as change was upon the town. They listened and re-listened to the stories of the past and realized that these stories were the guidance the town needed to help carry the essential values and uniqueness forward.
They made manifest a town vision that held up Kennett as being a place for the young and the old to grow up in and grow old in.Bridging principles were developed to mirror the previous story of Kennett as a welcoming place for run-away slaves and the spirit of the Lenape Indian tribe, which chose to settle in the area due to its peaceful and inclusive landscape.
Some Kennett folks know the story of Bridging the Community meetings and how it is an ongoing process to continue to tell our town’s story. Still, many do not know the story, yet can intuit that our town is unique in terms of being a caring town. Sometimes the question comes up, “How does this diverse town manage to keep its cool during so many challenging times?”
The story today is that there are many ways that the town is “bridging” resources and needs through networks and collective impact. With the complexity of issues around the pandemic and Black Lives Matter, there is no way we would be coming out the other end, without the mindset of “bridging” and working together for the benefit of each and all.
We are “bridging” community programs and processes that address the needs of the children, before they have time to get into trouble on the streets. We are collaborating around food collection. distribution and social services during the pandemic. We are investing in our town businesses so they can stay viable during the times of shutdown.We are “bridging” with the local police and the District Attorney to work together towards legal solutions. And, the list goes on.
Ajudge commented when the book won an award: “What the authors of “The Story of Kennett: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time” bring to life is a town that has an extraordinary story of self-development within the philosophy they call ‘bridging.’ They share an astonishing story of extreme town self-reflection and principled evolution.”
Storytelling shapes our future! As “bridging” processes take place, we need to tell and retell our story for future reference. Each story can lead us forward and each story brings a new light to the value of uniting our community and sharing our spiritual and human experience from the past, present and future.
The Story of Kennett may be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap or Resale Book Shoppe in Kennett. Contact Joan Holliday at firstname.lastname@example.org.