Here in Newtown, there have been a plethora of new organizations that have popped up since December. I even tried to start one myself that ended up not working out the way I had planned. Even so, I have involved myself in a number of these organizations over the last eight months. Some were temporary pop-up organizations that took care of immediate needs in town, and others are long-tem organizations that will likely serve our community for years to come.
One of the organizations that I serve as one of the "core" volunteers is "Ben's Bells". The founder, and a number of volunteers, from Tuscon, AZ came to our town in January and randomly placed 1,000 Ben's Bells throughout our community. It was an unexpected act of kindness that we desperately needed during an incredibly difficult time.
Fast forward a few weeks: and a couple friends started to put the wheels in motion to create a chapter here in town. It started with just 15 of us, a donated community space, lots of time working with clay, and many hours hosting community events that brought people from as far away as Boston coming to Newtown, to help create bells for our community and the surrounding communities. We even had 300+ bells that were made by our community project delivered and dispersed throughout Boston after the tragic marathon bombings.
Each bell is an entirely community-collaborative piece of artwork. It takes 10+ people to create a single Ben's Bell. You cannot purchase an original Ben's Bell. They are meant only to be found and to encourage the ongoing passage of "intentional kindness". Throughout the past 6 months our community and every person has attended our workshops and kindness programs in local schools, has helped to create well over 1,000 full Ben's Bells, and thus, have given a unexpected bit of kindness to over 1000 people who have found them.
This project has been so beneficial to me for many reasons. The obvious is for the creative aspect, but also that it has brought so many new friends into my life and it's enabled me and the rest of our community to gather, talk and heal through the process of creating art. There's something about painting with glaze, working with clay and knowing that what you are doing will help someone else that heals.
As I mentioned there are many organizations here in town that I've been a part of and continue to support. But Ben's Bells, is the one that has helped me on my journey to healing the most.
I think that finding something that helps one to involve themselves in the positive aspect of whatever hardships you have, is not only healing but it's healthy. I am eternally grateful for what it's done for me, my friends and for our community in the face of unimaginable despair. It's really coloring our community into a place of healing and hope.