Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 27, 2014

FAITH BRAUTIGAM: Share your interests with others like you

Come together at a public library branch

Kokomo Tribune

---- — One of the mental images I have of my late father always makes me smile.

I see him sitting on a bench at the mall, holding exactly one package while he waits … and waits … and waits some more.

The memory is from a different time and place; there was no online shopping, the family shared a single car, and the mall was far enough away that we didn’t go there often. Dad arrived at the mall with an idea, he executed the idea by purchasing an item, and he was done. Period. Browsing for inspiration, or even browsing just for fun, was not in his repertoire.

Going to the mall with Dad was my earliest introduction to the concept that the same activity can be a favorite pastime for some people and anathema for others.

While there are likely some couples who equally enjoy attending craft fairs and watching “Monday Night Football,” chances are you can think of a pastime or skill that is near and dear to you but that your spouse, child or best friend has no interest in. When that happens, the library might be just the place to help you connect with others who share your passion, whether that is investing, gluten-free cooking, upcycling, chess, bass fishing, digital photography, or a new trend that started last week.

Recently, Cristi Brewer-Allen visited the library to reserve a room for a fledgling group that had previously existed only on Facebook. They share an interest in crocheting, and in addition to their virtual exchanges they are now going to try meeting in-person at the library.

It’s neutral, it’s free, and best of all, it’s someone else’s job to make sure it’s neat and clean before you get here.

Since Cristi is doing exactly what we’d like to encourage more of you to do — using the library as a meeting spot for shared interests — I asked her to tell me more about what made her decide to take the plunge and facilitate a first meeting. I hope you find her answer to be as inspirational as I did.

“People complain about there not being enough to do in Kokomo, so I told them, ‘Make something to do!’” she said.

You, too, may be willing to “make something to do.” One barrier, however, could be finding that core group of people who gravitate toward that same focus. We’d love to help you with that, and here’s how it works.

Email general info about your hobby or interest, along with a rough idea of when you might be available (for example weekday or weekend), to ashanks@khcpl.org. We’ll help you find a meeting time and space and then put out the word inviting others to join. If you already know whom to include but just need the motivation and the space, consider this to be the nudge you need.

Let’s learn from Cristi and get together with others who share our interests, challenges or goals as a way to improve ourselves and our community. Spending time with like-minded neighbors is a great way to be encouraged, to encounter new ideas, or to find a place where you truly belong.

Faith Brautigam is director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library.