The OCP Blog

Beauty in the Mess

It can get pretty raw at Our Community Place. The heart and the struggle that play out every day in the community center are by turns the greatest reward and the most exhausting challenge about being here. People act out dramatic conflicts, deep-seated anger, jealousy, grief, traumatic experiences … but also demonstrate deep connection, positive energy, conflict mediation, reciprocal care, understanding, and gratitude. Many of the folks here are going through difficult times in their lives, and this of course lends to the rawness. Also, OCP tends to attract folks with both open hearts and hearts in need of a community. We’ve got all kinds of raw, y’all.

As you spend more time here, if you have a button, it will be pushed. You will also find out about buttons you didn’t realize you had. People will demonstrate their anger, hurt, sadness, frustration, needs, mistrust, demands, and defiance in ways that will surprise you. When people act out of these emotions, you may never know exactly what to do, although you will gather better and better ideas as you stick around. As management staff it is our job to support folks through hardship, to be compassionate and help build a restorative community. It is also our job to hold folks accountable for their behavior – to maintain as positive a building environment as possible, and keep ourselves and everyone else safe. Hold love in one hand and accountability in the other.

It’s difficult.

Why not stay in a quiet cubicle, never knowing if your coworker is mad because you took a kleenex without asking that one time? Why not go back to a hectic commercial kitchen where, even if folks are shouting, at least you’re not responsible for their behavior? Personally, I stay because the rawness sows a quality of relationship and personal growth that is hard to find elsewhere. You will have to learn to interact positively with all sorts of people, and you’ll become a better person for it. The gratitude, care, generosity, helpfulness, and camaraderie are truer here. It takes time to build those relationships, and it isn’t easy, but I believe it’s worth it.

Not to mention, we eat pretty good around here, too.

Randi Hagi

Kitchen Coordinator