Tip Of The Month: Meet A Neighbor With A Different Embodiment

If you do have a neighbor with a disability, and you have not yet met them go meet them

For this month’s neighboring tip, we are so honored and excited to share some of the wisdom of our friend and co-founder of The Julian Way, Rev. Justin Hancock. Justin teaches about community with, for and by people with diverse embodiments, and this month, we encourage you to think about the diversity of embodiments on your block and throughout your neighborhood.

Before we begin, we want to name that when we are using the language of diverse embodiments, we are referring to people with disabilities. Throughout this tip, you will hear this language repeated, and it is simply a different way of engaging with, and referring to, people with disabilities.

Now, as we begin, we invite you to think about your block. Who are the people you live with on your block? What are their names? What do they look like? Have you met each of them? Some of them? Do any of your neighbors have a different embodiment than you do? If you do have a neighbor with a different embodiment than you, and you have not yet met them, then this tip is for you. This month, we encourage you to go meet that neighbor. (And in the day of coronavirus, we of course ask that you do so while practicing good physical distancing!)

When you go meet that neighbor, ask them the same get-to-know-you questions that you would ask any other neighbor. What’s your name? What do you do? How long have you lived here? But also make sure you ask them what language they would like for you to use when you describe their embodiment or what they experience. Aside from getting to know your neighbor in a much more intimate way, this question is important because it keeps you from making assumptions about their embodiment or experience. If you are an able-bodied neighbor, there could be a sense of apprehension present, and that’s okay! Remember that when we meet neighbors of any embodiment, we’re always learning something. This is just another one of those opportunities to learn something new about a neighbor!

If your neighbor doesn’t want to answer, then of course, that’s totally okay! Remember, neighboring moves at the speed of trust, and you’ve just met them. Maybe they will be willing to answer and share as they get to know you more. Just don’t be afraid to engage in conversation with your neighbors around embodiment; it is completely okay to ask questions about a neighbor’s embodiment as long as you do so with respect and understanding if the neighbor doesn’t want to answer.

There you go. It’s time to go do it. Go meet those neighbors! Go ask those questions! Go curiously encounter your neighbors and see what you find!

Thank you, Justin, for all of your wisdom and encouragement. All of you, go check out The Julian Way and be inspired by their ridiculously awesome and powerful work! www.thejulianway.org

Happy neighboring!

From The Neighboring Movement at SoCe Life, Great Plains Annual Conference

Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2020