We’ve all heard it on our journey to promote social capital. “He just likes to be alone.” “She pushes all her friends away.” Promoting social capital is challenging and sometimes we get stumped. Often, it’s those who have Autism or are dually diagnosed with a mental illness. One diagnosis we have found particularly challenging is Borderline Personality disorder. Relational trauma and a lack of secure attachment early in life often drive this diagnosis, so relationships can pose a threat. That’s why I was particularly inspired by this story.
My daughter was working on a homework assignment when she found the video. She knows I enjoy all kinds of art, and this was a medium neither of us had seen before: light art photography. I was intrigued and captivated not only by the art, but how the video told the greater story of this man’s life. Finding his passion had been a pivotal, defining moment for him, but even greater was finding a community of like-minded folks with whom to share his passion. One approach the Interdependence Network has explored for building relationships is the 4-step process of 1) identifying a passion, 2) discovering where it’s celebrated in the community, 3) connecting with the gatekeeper in the group, and 4) joining the group. The twist in this story is that the group was online. Following a different path toward the same goal, Christopher’s art became the gatekeeper, the commonality that overrode the differences and created connection. Of the group his says, “I posted my first pictures to Flickr and almost immediately someone from the light junkies group invited me to the group. And I discovered this amazing community. They nourished and encouraged and I wouldn’t be here and gotten this far without them and their support.”
As we continue to support people to grow and develop new relationships, I think this story is a great reminder of how powerfully they can impact a life. I also think it illustrates the need for creativity. Online communities have their risks, but in this case it met the need for connection without the challenges that face-to-face relationships can pose. I hope you feel inspired as I did when you watch this beautiful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irAXgWjr2Uo