By Ashley Bean Thornton
Today – as you know – has been a glorious spring day in Waco. I had already been to the Downtown Farmer’s Market for lunch, and was taking a break after exploring Art on Elm when I happened to walk up behind my friend DB in line at Lula Jane’s . He surprised me by gallantly paying for my orange-cranberry scone and iced tea. That’s the kind of day it has been, the kind where somebody picks up your tab just because you’re standing next to him in line — a TERRIFIC day.
So it came to pass that I’m munching my scone and visiting with my benefactor and his lovely and talented wife, LB, when she says, “I got your email,” meaning the Act Locally Waco Friday Update email. Then she makes a sweeping gesture with her arm that takes in the scone, Art on Elm, and the whole glorious day, and she asks, “What’s the connection?” I don’t know why she asked it – maybe she had seen the blurb about Art on Elm in the Friday Update and wanted to know why a blurb about an art festival was included in a newsletter about reducing poverty. We didn’t end up talking about it. Someone else wandered up and took the conversation in a different direction, or maybe we just got distracted by an especially tasty bite of scone; anyway, we never finished the thought.
There is a connection though.
Act Locally Waco was born out of a desire to help reduce poverty in Waco. The basic idea was that there are (A) lots of people in Waco who care about reducing poverty, and (B) lots of things going on in town to reduce poverty, and maybe it would be (C) helpful to have a website to help bring A and B together. From the very beginning, though, an important part of the Act Locally Waco philosophy has been that “not-poverty” is not enough. It’s not enough to dwell solely on what we DON’T want; we need to do some dwelling on what we DO want. And one of the things we DO want is more days like today: a day that every person in Waco can enjoy regardless of income level, a day to come out and commune with your neighbors and listen to music in the beautiful sunshine, a day to fall in love with everyone you see, a day to remember how great we can be together.