In conjunction with the retreat (and probably largely as a result of the retreat) our house did some soul searching about the kind of programming we’d like to offer. At points in the past, programming has come about in a fairly haphazard manner. So we were interested in thinking more deliberately about our programming, offering more Jewish content and generally providing a meaningful forum for folks in our community to interact with the world and feel like they’re improving it and also deriving some personal satisfaction from their involvement. Slowly but surely I think we’ve been making this happen. We hosted a Tu Bishvat Seder last week, next week we’re hosting a guest speaker from the African Refugee Development Center in Israel and serving brunch, we’re devoting our next Shabbat to Haiti relief, we’ve decided to offer up our house as a place to say Shabbat blessings even on nights when we’re not hosting a dinner, and we’re exploring an exciting partnership with Challah for Hunger. So, in short, I feel like we actually are realizing our vision in a lot of ways.
And though we need to be realistic about how quickly and dramatically we can change our programming (and whether we even want to change it that dramatically) it is instructive to envision what could be. For a long time I’ve been trying to figure out meaningful ways to engage our community in the larger DC community. I love the idea of doing more volunteer projects and working with local non-profits who are already doing fabulous anti-poverty/community-uplift work. We do that to come extent, but our involvement could be much more extensive. I think it would be great to gather a team of folks from our community who build relationships with local groups so that our house and the MHDC community have a constant stream of community-based projects to engage in.
Other thoughts – For a while we’ve talked about the possibility of having a community art show – gathering art from members of our community and displaying it (possibly selling it too). Maybe featuring a local band, or a few local bands? And overall just taking advantage of the space that our house affords us and making it beautiful with other people’s art (if only temporarily)!