When I drink tea it changes me

Wow, it’s midsummer already! I’m reaching out to catch up with you. Where to begin? Life is good; daughter Amelia just graduated high school, and Andy and I are still dancing. We met 23 years ago, and just hit our 20th anniversary (breaking all prior records)! And now? I have a big new story to share with you.

As I was finishing up my work at Pleasant Ridge Montessori a few years ago, I was disturbed to find that no matter how well we created a joyful space for children to integrate economically, racially and intellectually, once they left the school the kids and families mostly re-segregated along economic lines. Economic separation also looks like racial separation. We were back to nodding politely at each other. This made me upset, so in response, I created a non-profit called “Community Happens Here.” I wanted to make community happen. But… what does that mean?

One day I was railing to my sister about how we need to “go to the sidewalk” to connect with people. She asked me if I had ever actually, personally, done it. Well… no, not exactly…! So I did! It was April 4th a year and a half ago. I had this cool idea of serving tea in mugs decorated by others, and inviting folks to decorate one to leave for others to use. I had no idea if it would work but then a child proved to me it could. That one little girl taught me all I need to know. She sat with me, talked to me, and then created a little cup with this phrase: “When I drink tea it changes me.” Wow. That’s it!

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We call it Radical Sidewalk Hospitality, and I’ve done it many times since then, with tea, and lemonade and popcorn, or just water. The principle is the same – a welcoming activity, a chance to slow down, something to drink, and an opening to converse and connect. It is magical, and it works. Every. Single. Time. Check it out.

What a journey it has been. I have a cool new website. I was featured in SoapBox Media in a great article. We have a FaceBook page and are on Instagram. I also bought a building in a great location in Pleasant Ridge, that needs a lot of work. So I’m doing a series of fund/friend-raising concerts, with two more coming up on August 11th and September 8th. I am so grateful to the wonderful musicians who have donated their time and talent to help build community. Read more about the past concerts here.

I begin with community, and so I’m beginning with you, my community of friends. I hope you will enjoy reading about our progress, talk to me about your ideas, and come to one of our upcoming concerts!

In joy,
Ruth Anne