Every day you hear or see someone networking; working the room for future business prospects or referrals. It’s one of those things that you get, but you sometimes get turned off by it. Oftentimes we are inundated with these community-building tactics on Facebook, Twitter and Emails. There are many less than complimentary things we can say about people who annoy us through our phones, Blackberry’s and in boxes. Until we’re the organization trying to muster fans we forget how annoying we are to the people in our lives we now call “friends.” BUT we now have some incredible evangelists; not the Pat Robertson types, but the Joe’s and Sara’s and Bob’s who care, who give, and who spread the word of need in our very own communities and across the globe. Because of the incredible viral effect of social networking, we now experience worldwide reach by these social-evangelists. These people are the new activists of our generation; these people are marching in protest or support of a cause half a nation away, these people may very well be the same people that saved Music City!
Last week I did not post my weekly article for the first time in over 52 weeks. I didn’t feel compelled, nor did I even know it was Monday. On Friday May 1st, Nashville, Tennessee was hard hit with rains that were unprecedented in their length and fury. On Saturday we added another 5 or 6 inches onto the total…and by Sunday we were at widespread panic level with our rivers, creeks, and tributaries. Before anyone knew what had happened, Nashville had already suffered its first loss of life. As the waters rose so did the death toll. As the death count rose, so did the heartbreak across Tennessee. By Monday morning the local news was broadcasting 24/7 coverage to an audience that was awestruck at the power and magnitude of the devastation. It wasn’t until the photos of the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Hotel were released that we received nominal national coverage. It seemed that there was an oil spill and an attempted terrorist plot that was of paramount importance…that, and maybe we didn’t need the public broadcast because the people of Nashville began taking care of their own. Make-shift organizations began to dispatch pockets of volunteers, high school football teams traveled to remote areas to aide in the rescue efforts and help right over-turned vehicles and buildings. Churches held “high ground” cook-outs and began dispersing meals to those of us in the field working on clean up efforts…and it was then I witnessed a community grow into something I will forever be proud of.
Without getting into the details of my own personal tragedy, I can tell you I watched not only people taking care of their own, but people taking care of complete strangers, and people giving everything they could for the benefit of a neighbor they had never had the chance to meet. It’s been said that the fall of community was when neighborhoods were built without sidewalks preventing families from walking their own streets anymore. I hadn’t felt that neighborhood feeling since I was a kid. Sidewalks make communities strong, this is true, but I understand something much more poignant now: true communities are built when people are in need. A cities’ true character shines in a time like this. A champion spirit forges through and people lend a piece of their soul to help a neighbor. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and an even richer thing to be a part of.
And what was most interesting was the social networking frenzy that occurred in building this revived community we call Nashville. I think without it, our own neighboring states would not have had a clue we were even washing away. I watched a transformation and a compassion swell like nothing I’ve ever seen in my 44 years. I saw humanity in its finest hour. I cried every night as I read posts and received comments from people in New Mexico, California and as far away as Canada asking how they could help. I received emails from friends requesting links to share with their networks and communities to aide in the fund raising. People who once visited and people who one day will could not bear the thought of the rich history of the Nashville Music Scene being in jeopardy and its people being in need. I am still in awe.
And while I may not have said it enough or even eloquently, I am forever changed. I am forever marked by this tragedy and I am forever grateful for people who genuinely care about other people. It is inspiring and gives me hope for this world! Thank you all for your love and support. Thank you for your prayers. We are a long way from recovery, but we are Nashville…and we will be back! Come visit us next summer!
For more information on how you can help in the Nashville Recovery Efforts, please go to: Community Foundation of Mid TN or Nashville Red Cross.
Here Comes The Sun – Nashville Slide Show