It’s all about being a part of something bigger than ourselves, embracing the magic of authentic community, thriving with people who share different interests, bound together with a common goal —that is, to rediscover humanity at its very best.
In the African country of Zimbabwe, war trauma and high unemployment can leave people in despair—until they find hope on a “friendship bench.” A Friendship Bench is quite literally a park bench — with a higher calling. Hopeless people can go there to talk with trained “grandmothers” —elderly women taught to listen to people struggling with depression, known in that nation’s Shona language as kufungisisa, or “thinking too much.” The Friendship Bench Project is spreading across the world, including Zanzibar, London, and New York City, as a safe place to listen and to be heard. …
The mission of the Friendship Bench is to create safe spaces and a sense of belonging in communities, to enhance mental wellbeing, and improve peoples’ quality of life.
~Dixon Chibanda, founder of the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe in 2005
It started as just another Zoom gathering in early April 2020 —just as the global pandemic was taking hold. The idea was quite simple; invite people from around the world to gather on our virtual Friendship Bench, for just one hour every week to share, to care, to learn, to connect, and to embrace –with no sales pitches, no presentations, no agenda. A Bench where people would be bound together by choice, founded upon a universal good-faith commitment to listen, understand, respect, empathize with, and support one another. A place for giving and receiving without judgment. A place to escape from all the noise out there, and simply exhale among friends –both old and new.
Little did we know just how many would grab a seat, again and again, and again. And little did we know just how quickly this gathering would become such a welcome, wonderful, and essential part of our weekly routine. Many folks talk about connection and community, often unaware of what it really means. We’re blessed. Because with the candor, the vulnerability, the wisdom, and the kinship brought to the Bench, we’ve discovered the true meaning of authentic connection. We quickly learned that in times of chaos & uncertainty and even in times of peace & tranquility, we’re simply better together.
I can’t think of a better place to rest than on Our Friendship Bench. One where every week I find trust; to connect with people beyond borders; to find connection without judgement; to feel inspired and part of a family, and; to evolve through uncertainty to a place of love.
Next up is our long-planned break shared with you all here: Radical Sabbatical – a chance for us to step back before we leap forward into the new year, followed by the convening of our re-imagined, richer, broader, bolder Bench when we reconvene at a new start time —11:30 AM EST every Thursday, beginning February 17th, 2022. All celebrated by the introduction of a new paint job – replacing
The Friendship Bench with OUR Friendship Bench to recognize and embrace the notion that it’s owned by everyone who takes a seat, complemented by new colors to more visibly reflect our intentional quest from day one to be more inclusive.
GETTING THE MOST WITH MORE HOSTS: Our good friends Toni McClelland (UK) and Mac Bogert will be stepping up to join Melissa Hughes and me as rotating weekly Friendship Bench Hosts, PLUS we’ll be reaching out far and wide to bring along more guest co-hosts with more fresh topics.
Friendship is what makes people move to the middle when there is plenty of room at both ends of the bench.
Time to Take Discover YOUR Magic?
Challenging times such as these call for more human connection – not less. Across the globe, people are searching for hope, recovery, and a brighter future. Of course, it will take time. But no matter how isolated we may feel, we are not alone in our desire for a safe place to connect, listen, and be heard. And that’s what Our Bench is all about. It’s for anyone and everyone seeking the comfort of unconditional belonging, sharing, listening, engaging, and supporting.
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Let’s come together as a global community —as we share positive perspectives on the upside-down world around us. Real people. Real discussion. Positively inspiring. We’ll be taking our seats on the Bench every Thursday at 11:30 AM Eastern, resuming Thursday, February 17th, 2022. Don’t wait —CLICK BELOW to reserve your seat “for good”. ⤵
Rich, adult conversations. Thoughtful engagement. Real relationships. Humanity at its very best …