i wanted to title this post ‘engaged’ but i realized that word means only one thing in this culture. at least as a standalone.

so instead i stole Downtown Credo’s tagline: a movement pointing people toward living lives of meaning, impact and community. its a non-profit, name your price coffee shop in College Park, Fl and my third place.

but that’s not what this is about.

this is about Orlando in general, and why i’m starting to love it.
you see, there are all these Orlando groups that rave about why they love it here, like Ourlando, Yelpers, etc. there’s even a Why I Love Orlando facebook group. the first question at a workshop i went to recently was “Why do you love Orlando?” i said i did not, but was trying to… it’s a bit unnerving when you are not in the crowd that loves Orlando.

but i’m completely biased. i grew up here and couldn’t wait to leave. i never thought i’d live here again. yet here.am.i.

i’ve been reluctant to express my feelings for this place, trying to muster some sort of affection, or at least appreciation. though recently some things have shifted. i have a group of folks i LOVE dearly, though we are all over the place and don’t see each other nearly as often as i’d like. but i like being a part of their story, and i’m thankful they’re a part of mine. and i realized that i love the things i am involved in here, which is actually a bit of a first for me.

truth is, i always engage. its a blessing and a curse. i know how to get involved, how to get to know people quickly; i’m a hard worker and a passionate person. i’ve finally started learning my limits and boundaries and how to say “no” when i’m doing more than i can handle. normally i engage in a way that overwhelms me because i end up trying to do too much and not taking care of myself. but as of late i’ve narrowed down my involvement to things i really love. (and the random side jobs i pick up to be able to keep doing the things i love.)

so for documenting sake, here’s what i do in Orlando:
(for the record: these are currently all volunteer positions)

  • volunteer barista at Downtown Credo
  • Local/Global Service team at Status
  • farm intern at Econ Farm/Home Grown Delights
  • involved in A Local Folkus (runs the Winter Park & Winter Garden Harvest Festivals)
  • Status Community Market team (organizes a market every season to raise money for a non-profit)

and i’ve realized what i want to be about from doing these things. i want to be about community development because i want to see peoples lives improve. i like being a part of the local food scene because it gives me hope that people on all levels will have access to good food, to health and hopefully to some form of community. and i love the connected-ness of this small city trying too hard to be big.

true, sometimes it drives me mad that i cannot be very anonymous in this much too small feeling city, but i love the way folks all over Orlando are fighting for their city and also fighting for each other. and it’s something i’m starting to love being a part of….

i wrote a letter to a friend awhile back, which is usually one of the ways i process things in my life. it said that even though i don’t love it here i know i’m supposed to be here because of all i’m learning: “funny that i would have to return to where the story began to get some clarity – makes sense i guess.” as i said, here i am. so here’s to all that is to come. cheers.


footnote: most common response at said workshop: “I love Orlando because of the weather/sunshine.”