Be Inspired

Let’s Keep Talking

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This #WeBelongWR post comes to us from local TV and radio host, active community volunteer, and all around good person, Mike Farwell. He shares an anecdote illustrating the importance of telling local stories and how it impacts our own sense of belonging. You can find Mike on Country 106.7 and at his Twitter handle, @farwell_WR. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

The man on the other side of the bar had been watching me for at least ten minutes. It’s not like he was staring at me but there was no doubt he was trying to figure out if he knew me. And truth be told, it was getting a little awkward.

Not only was this man much bigger than me but I let my own mind race with how I might possibly know him and, worse, if I could possibly have offended him in some way.

I had just asked for my bill when he decided to come around the bar and take a seat in the chair two spots over.

“Are you Mike Farwell?” he asked.

I answered that I was and he immediately extended his bear paw of a hand.

“I just wanted to say ‘thank you,’” he explained, as his hand swallowed mine. “When I first came to this community, I watched your TV show. It helped me with my English and it helped me learn what was happening in my city. I want to buy you a beer.”

He wouldn’t take no for an answer and so we shared a drink while I learned about his experiences emigrating from Ethiopia and settling in Kitchener.

What a perspective-changing conversation that was for me. And as I look back on it now, I recognize the importance of sharing our stories.

11030388_10206781481718232_3358736114884609832_n-878x494This is not a story of a long ago TV show I once hosted and how it led to a free beer.

This is a story about a man who learned about his new city and found out how to navigate it by watching a TV show we created to tell the stories that were happening in our community. Whether good or bad, these stories helped this newcomer learn more about the place he was now calling home.

And it made him feel a part of that place.

In these days of increasing pressures on bottom lines and the ever-changing media landscape, we’d do well to remember the importance of sharing our stories. If we don’t know what’s happening in our community, and we don’t know the people who are making things happen, how can we possibly expect people to find a way to fit in?

I think we might be surprised to learn the impact of storytelling.

Let’s keep talking.

July 18th, 2016
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