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Our monthly gathering at the Lumberton Leas Community Center on Labor Day led me to thinking about change and about the persistence of change. The temperature and humidity seemed to be easing off as a sign that Fall was on the way. The room for our Labor Day potluck was decorated with construction vehicles. The theme was “Salute to the Pioneers” — the Lumberton Campus pioneers. We recalled how the first residents of Medford Leas at Lumberton created and supported so many aspects of our community life here. It was these elements, Fall’s arrival, Labor Day’s falling out of favor, the potluck dinner’s telltale changes, and the Salute to the Pioneers, that made me think of the persistence of change.
  • Fall is here now, and we all know Fall. It’ll be cooler, with shorter days, more boisterous holidays, and a chance to focus on thankfulness.
  • Of course Labor Day was established to celebrate the actual labor of a broadly engaged work force which built and sustained our country. It was also meant to be an occasion to celebrate the labor unions which fought for improved work places conditions and wages, raising the standard of living of us all.
But it seems that none of the Republican or Democratic presidential primary candidates participated in any public Labor Day celebrations to commemorate our workers or our standard of living this year.
  • Now, Potluck meals date back at least as far as the country’s pioneers who formed new communities wherever they stopped, getting together to build their houses, raise their barns, harvest their crops, educate their children, worship, welcome newcomers, and share their food in all sorts of communal gatherings.
The ‘sudden suburbanites’ of the 1950s repeated the process of building connectedness, with PTAs, church groups, Veterans organizations, and with summer BBQs and block parties, and winter dinners. In many ways the Lumberton campus, from its inception in late 1999, was like a ’50s ‘sudden suburb’, an instant community coming into existence literally around the first residents. And, almost from the start, there were potlucks. But I did notice a few changes – it is not only the women who bring food. And there is no expectation that you made what you brought, ‘bought’ is fine. And  you are asked to bring an ingredient card, not necessarily a full recipe card. These “ingredient cards” are meant to help people with food allergies, sensitivities, and other dietary concerns to be able to make good choices on what to eat. What hasn’t changed about our potlucks is that no one leaves hungry, and everyone has a chance to get a little more connected!
  • And then the “Salute to the Pioneers” program of the evening. Residents who had been here for a decade and a half educating newcomers like me about the the development of our community.
In late 1999, the “pioneers” at the Lumberton campus moved into  what was essentially a construction site. Here they were surrounded by, among other things, the heavy equipment necessary to bring in the utilities and build the community’s houses, clubhouse, and road. To help the pioneers feel right at home as they were being saluted on September 7, there were toy construction vehicles of all kinds, front loaders, backhoes, dump trucks, forklifts, steam shovels, scattered all through the Labor Day decorations. (The decorators did manage to hold back from placing other reminders of that time, like mud puddles, turkeys, and wooden flamingos, in the decorations.) The Lumberton residents have always had access to all the events and activities on the Medford Campus six miles away. But  the residents here set about to develop their own programs, events and activities here on this campus. This they did!, by pooling their interests, knowledge and resources, they created activities, events, places, things, and social occasions here at Lumberton Leas, for themselves and for their fellow residents at the Medford Leas site in Medford. The “Salute to the Pioneers” really drove home to me the truly evolutionary nature of the amenities-rich combined community here on both campuses, with a teasing glimpse of “coming attractions”. How will each one of the amenities on each of the campus change as the upcoming resident cohorts step in to supporting all of the activities, events, clubs, resource areas, community publications?  What will be added that is brand new? And what will change? What new national and global decisions will be talked over in the Great Decisions sessions? What music performances will be offered in the theater’s Music Videos, in the LeasMusiCast? What new authors and artists, community-based events, and field trips will be coming through the Pathways programs? What new courses from the Great Courses series will be offered in VidU? What kinds of books acquired and retired in the libraries? Tennis, or soccer? (only kidding, right?) Come join us, and help define and refine what enriches our life in our community!
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