Last night I found myself gnashing my teeth once more over the poisonous political atmosphere in our country, the fury erupting in Haiti, the insanity of our financial situation and other things that go bump in the night, and in the process of sorting it all out, I wrote a note to a friend. What I said sort of popped out and surprised me, but now that I’ve articulated it, I think it makes perfect sense: GRIT needs to take over the world.
Yes, I know. It’s a bold statement, but please, hear me out. Here at GRIT, our values are all about hard work and pleasure in simple things. We’re about community and self-reliance, in just about equal measure. We talk about how to feed ourselves, grow things, build stuff, get along with each other and say a holy “Gee whiz” at the amazing intricacy of the natural world. And that’s just what’s between the pages of our magazine.
Even better is what goes on here behind the scenes. Get this: our staff gets along and works out differences. I know. I know. Amazing. When things get rough, we have conversations and figure out ways to do better.
Now, within the GRIT staff itself, we have the comfort level of somewhat similar backgrounds: We grew up in small towns or on farms, we went to church and were in 4-H, FFA or FHA, had some experience doing chores we didn’t want to and some sense of celebration with our families and communities when the work was done.
But we work for a company with a couple hundred people here under the same roof, and not everyone has that same history. We live in a relatively conservative state, one that the national media would have us believe is intolerant and impossible for anyone who isn’t white, politically conservative and religiously fundamental. Daily, we put the lie to that assumption.
We have white people working here, black people, Hispanic people, Asian people. We have Christians of various flavors—Protestant, with several subdivisions (Baptist, Freewill Baptist, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, Community churches, etc.); Catholic; Jewish; Buddhist and a few employees who might be described as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The staff includes straights, gays and who-the-heck-knows; liberals, conservatives, arch-liberals, arch-conservatives and maybe a few commies or anarchists who just know how to keep their mouths shut (doubtful).
When a long-time employee recently experienced a devastating medical situation and used up all her leave and financial resources, no one asked what church she attended or if she followed a particular political orthodoxy. We just started organizing raffles and potlucks and other opportunities for employees to support her in unofficial ways. Last year, we did the same with another employee who had a baby so premature it was a medical miracle that she survived. Prior to that, another employee’s daughter passed away suddenly, leaving him and his wife with an infant and three older children to support on a custodian’s income. In each case, we rallied ‘round, made up a bunch of food and just started doing what we could to assist them past the rocky parts.
We’re like that here. Quietly, matter-of-factly, without the need for trumpets blaring and news cameras focused on how generous we are. We take care of each other.
We don’t argue about politics, religion or sex in our break room or in our individual work areas – and believe me, for some of us more opinionated types, that occasionally requires restraint. We let each other be, we get along and we get an unbelievable amount of work done. Not only that, we actually like each other.
I think it’s a model the rest of the country would do well to follow. We’re happy to share.