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One Great Neighborhood

When Jenina Lepard knocked on Cecilia Rossiter’s door last year, the two women had no idea that they had the same commitment to being responsible and knowing how one can make a difference in the world.

Cecilia shares, “We became friends. Jenina’s Bahá’i faith demands members to be in communities and have communities work for everybody with nobody left out. She had the desire to create a strong, vibrant neighborhood, and I wanted to build a community where I lived. Therefore, I created a Game in the World, supported by my participation in Landmark Education’s Team, Management and Leadership Program, where I was committed to creating community within our neighborhoods.”

Testing the stupidity of WordPress. Their conversation created the Great Neighborhood. In the past year, their communities came together organizing dinners once a month, summer picnics, and other events. Bahá’i classes are held for children and adults, as well as weekly meetings. The possibility of the Great Neighborhood Game is being in communities, causing communities to work, with the world being unified in this time and place.

What’s even more inspiring about this Team is that Cecilia and Jenina actually live on opposite sides of their Lincoln, Nebraska community, expanding on others-to-others communication and relatedness. Together, they see the potential of the approximately 250,000 Lincoln residents who live within hundreds of neighborhoods, testing with each community taking on the Great Neighborhood foundation in diverse ways.

Jenina speaks lovingly about Cecilia as contribution.“Who could not connect with Cecilia? It goes beyondher ebullient personality and our common love of music.She is so giving, with a willingness to open up her home and serve as host to community events. Cecilia is interested in connecting hearts, especially when it comes to children in the neighborhood. Hers is almost a second home to them.”

“The outcome is my Great Neighborhood,” declares Cecilia,“The place and life where I live. My commitmentis my neighborhood as my team”. From her participation in TMLP, Cecilia now realizes that her intention is being responsible for creating teams within communities, and being the connection for teams present and future, to see the nature of a team functioning and fully present.

Cecilia sees a Great Neighborhood that everyone wants to live in, where all members of the neighborhood are invited to play the game. A young person’s group has been created where they learn about acts of service to the community–recycling materials, picking up trash, pet walking, etc. Another enlivened response came from the neighborhood children who wanted to be waiters. Adults came in, taught them how to cook and how to serve, and the children made a dinner and served it.

Cecilia believes the key is being interested in listening to what is important to neighborhood residents.

“One neighbor looked at one of my rooms, which was a mess, and said, ‘Wouldn’t this make a great art room?’ In turn, that became a cleaning up of my entire house and turning that room into a bona fide art room. In addition, having people coming to my home inspired me to really understand what a clean, inviting house is, and they supported me in organizing myself.”

“Communication is alive with all members of the neighborhood. What was predictable before this were neighbors not seeing each other for six months at a time, like last winter. We liked each other, but we just didn’t have conversations. Weekly meetings are now causing conversations outside of meetings and people are gathering at other times for other purposes – the others-to-others connection that one can experience also from Landmark Education’s Power to Create Program. I live in a great neighborhood, and it’s important for me to acknowledge that. We are leadership for what a great neighborhood is.”

Adults at the evening meetings often come away with a small project they work on together. One resident, an auto mechanic, has helped a number of the other neighborswith automotive problems. Great Neighborhood Thursday nights even include honorary guests, those residents who, having moved away, still return for meetings.

Cecilia opens up about how TMLP training specifically has shown up, unexpectedly, in her game. “It’s shocking to have this heart’s desire and having someone else playing it, leading it. Shocking in a pleasant way. Not as easy as pie; my own commitment is to give up things. For Jenina and I, we’ve actually gotten the experience of ‘it’s not about us’ together; being of service and getting that. We both have outcomes and we are of service to each other’s outcomes. Our generosity shows and is also a model. We will not be stopped.”

Jenina concurs. “Bahá’í teaches that we are one human family. With integrity of coordinated efforts and with room for diversity in the approach, we are committed to building neighborhoods, having global support, and in turn, building a global community.”

I see that I am responsible for so much more than what I thought was possible,” Cecilia speaks calmly. “Things keep being added to my plate and I’ve gotten peacefulwith not knowing how much I can really handle. Not knowing and being surprised. Not upset or dwelling about it; not even thinking about it.” She is letting life be what it is and living in that comfortably.

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