Preparing the Soil


More than sixty people participated in our second “Let’s Go Together” event on Saturday, a service project held at the Helping Hands Food Bank in Sedro Woolley, WA. After first getting to know their neighbors at our Sharing Food and Stories event a few weeks ago, participants were back to deepen relationships while working side-by-side to serve the greater community.

The food bank needed help developing their food forest where they grow fresh produce to supplement their food aid programs for people in Skagit County. Fruit trees needed to be freed of blackberry vines and weeds. Some trees needed trimming and raised beds required a new coat of paint. We worked together to rejuvenate the soil, helping to nourish our community.

After an hour of work under the warm sun, we took a break for lunch and continued our discussions. The goal was to help people from diverse cultures, traditions, life circumstances, and identities forge lasting relationships. The camaraderie was evident from the start—people were talking, hugging, and laughing together.

I shared that our goal with the “Let’s Go Together” initiative extends beyond hosting events. We aim to foster lasting relationships, mutual respect, and organizational partnerships that will strengthen our community. I mentioned how democracy suffers when individuals are isolated and groups remain segregated. The negative news and dehumanizing language we often hear only exacerbate this. “What would happen if people got to know each other in every neighborhood?” I posed to the group.

During lunch, Kay Knott, an elder from the Upper Skagit Tribe and a key volunteer with Paths to Understanding (PTU), encouraged me to observe the group’s dynamics. Everyone was engaged, listening intently with a relaxed yet purposeful demeanor.

After resuming work for another hour, we gathered in a circle to reflect on the day. Participants shared words, phrases, or sentences about their feelings. Expressions of joy, connection, a desire for more inter-group relationships, relief from loneliness, and strategies to strengthen our democracy filled the air. One man expressed hope for our future, a sentiment that resonated deeply, prompting us all to take a collective deep breath.

As PTU continues this work, we are preparing to share our vision nationwide. This kind of face-to-face, group-to-group engagement is crucial for the future of our democracy. Plans are underway to create educational materials and a process to help communities across the country implement “Let’s Go Together”.

It was simple, yet so powerful.

Just as preparing the soil allows plants to thrive, preparing ourselves for relationships lets our community, our nation, and ourselves grow.