How many people does it take to do something good?

I was out picking up litter for my 20 Minute Makeover yesterday when one of the neighbourhood’s long time residents stopped me to chat.  He challenged me a bit, the one thing worth mentioning now is he asked why I should have to pick up the litter.  “You shouldn’t have to do it,” he said.

He’s right.  I shouldn’t have to do it.  On the other hand, if no one does it, nothing will change and nothing will ever get better.  So I want to do my little piece and try to make a positive difference around me.  In the long haul, it’s really about me living in a nicer neighbourhood and showing a little kindness to the awesome people who live around me.

I was, after all, coming off quite the terrific morning as we closed the loop on getting that personal lift out of a shed and back into use.  But I did the smallest of parts - I just sent a couple of tweets and made a phone call.  Maybe 10 minutes out of my life, not a penny from my pocket and yet I got a really good feeling that I played a tiny role in doing something really good.

I sent a couple of emails to say thanks after the fact and got thinking about the network of people who helped out.  Monica at the ALS society is really doing the heavy lifting now, and Joan, of course, is the wonderful woman who donated the lift.  They’re the people who deserve accolades. 

But the people who helped me are terrific and I’m so grateful to count them as my friends.  Even those I don’t know personally.  First there’s the retweeters: Chris, Lori, Rosa, Peter, Monica, Andrew, Papabear and of course Naheed.  They helped get the word out to find people willing to make a difference.  There’s Neighbourlink - great in their own right - who gave more suggestions on generated ideas to find an appropriate home.  There’s Tracey who got me in touch with Cheryl who got the suggestion from Gary that finally pieced together an answer.

And then I start thinking in the other direction.  I only got involved because I volunteered for Mary, who I met because Marlene thought she could help me get one of my pet projects going.  And the reason Marlene pinned me down was because Nancy called Cheri to get me to do a special Jane’s Walk and Marlene caught me picking up litter at the community hall while waiting for people to arrive.  Of course I have to think of Stewart and Heather who welcomed me to our neighbourhood before I knew we all shared the same one.  That already adds up to a lot of people without putting any sort of real thought into it.

So how many people does it take to do something good?  One.  Just yourself.  If you’re willing to put a little effort in the rest will fall together.