Urban 'Living Rooms' Inspire Anyone and Everyone to Give

Camerados Rotherham Living Room
Camerados operates open public spaces, such as this one in Rotherham, England, where people can connect with each other.
Courtesy Camerados

Sometimes we think of kindness as being a handout, notes Jaclyn Lindsey, founder of kindness.org. But giving can be empowering, which is why her organization partnered with Camerados, a group that creates spaces where anyone can walk in, connect with others, and do for others. The name comes from Walt Whitman's poem, "Song for the Open Road."

"Camerados wants to combat isolation," the group says on its website. "This is the root of addiction, homelessness, crime, poor health and more. At its living room in Blackpool, England's Central Library, anyone can stop in for coffee, a seat in an armchair, and a conversation.

It's where Colin, who suffers from a personality disorder and was calling the city emergency number just to talk to someone, rediscovered his childhood love of gardening and began to give small plants away to people as gifts. (See a video with Colin here.)

The group's four operating principles, though they are aimed at social problems including homelessness and drug addiction, are ones that anyone could apply toward having better relationships with those around us:

Failure is essential to success. "Failure is OK and part of how we learn," the Camerados site says. "Understanding this creates resilience."

Helping others is more powerful than being helped. "The most positive changes happen when people are asked to help others. It creates self-worth and belonging."

Challenge stigma. Always. "Stigma isolates. Confounding stigma empowers people and creates a wider cultural change."

Diversity makes us all stronger. "Maybe right now, in the future or the past, we all have tough times and we are all the same. "


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