The Power of We: Big Lessons from a Small Town

By 2012 Fellow, Gillian Perron

Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. This year the theme is "The Power of We" in celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world. 

Every morning, I step onto the metro and join the thousands of other caffeine-induced people who live and work in Washington, D.C. If you have ever taken public transportation at rush hour, you know this means lots of newspapers crinkling, people attempting not to stare, and many awkward bumps as the metro driver slams on his brakes.

As a proud D.C. resident, I walk by institutional landmarks and historical monuments every day; the momentum of the forward-thinking and hustling crowds is enough to make anyone aspire to change the world. I am one of the “we” who calls the District home. But I developed a sense of community and the true impact of the “power of we” in a much less glamorous setting.

I grew up in a remote Vermont town with less than 1,000 community members. This setting means two things: you never get away with a speeding ticket and you learn the importance of community which is amplified in times of hardship. In 1986, my parents purchased our family farm from my grandparents, which was a big investment and risk at a time when small farms are being overshadowed by larger agribusiness and urbanization. That same year, our town experienced a microburst, which is similar to a tornado; it happened to settle over our property and wreaked destruction on my parents’ newly purchased farm. Besides damage to the land and equipment, the microburst ripped through the right side of the barn.

For a small business, destruction of that magnitude can be insurmountable. In our town, as with any small community, the news spread quickly. That weekend, our neighbors arrived and helped my parents rebuild the right half of our barn. It was done in a matter of days rather than the months it likely would have taken my family to make the repairs. When my family recounts this story, we feel so proud of our community; though we never refer to this as the “power of we,” I know this is the epitome of the true impact a group of people can create.

Living in the District allows one to feel a certain level of anonymity, which hinders the impact and power a group of people can have. In order to complete the circle and be a part of something that is bigger than I, I have joined an amazing team of people at Good360. Each day, we work to connect a network of more than 30,000 charities to corporate donors through a sophisticated nonprofit supply chain. Good360 is a nonprofit that truly exemplifies the “power of we.” By collaborating with the two networks, nonprofits are able to receive product donations that stretch their budgets and fulfill their missions.

Corporations are able to increase their bottom line and social image by donating products as opposed to disposing of or destroying them. Although I may be far from my hometown and our family’s farm, I carry the lessons learned with me in my daily work; as a result, I have never felt the “power of we” so strongly.

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