I hear it all the time, “I want to do something to make change, but I don’t know what to do.” I also
have heard many times, “I am just one person, how could I really make change?”
Many years ago I experienced something that changed my entire outlook on those thoughts and
questions. It changed my life.
I was on my way to work in rush hour traffic. It was February and freezing. I think the windchill was
in the teens. I was sitting at a red light in front of a grade school and one block away from a high
school. It was a very busy and confusing intersection with 5 entry points.
I look around and saw a small child waiting at the cross walk with a parka on. It was so big, the child’s
head was buried so deep in the hood, I could barely see his face. It was early and I knew the crossing
guard would not be on duty for at least 20 minutes and it was too dangerous for the student to cross on
his own so he stood there when he had the light to walk.
I couldn’t stand it. I was the very first person in line at the light and I knew I was about to anger a lot
of people but I turned off my van, got out and went to the child and asked if he wanted help crossing. I
saw the parka hood motion yes and the child took my hand. I told him we would have to wait to cross
because the light was about to change and it wouldn’t be safe.
The light changed. No one moved. No one. Not one car. No one honked their horn. Everyone sat
still in support of getting this child across the road and into the school. I was stunned. I was humbled.
At that moment, I fell in love with every soul that surrounded us. With tears in my eyes and intense
gratitude, I took a step off the curb and the child followed me. We got to the other side and he ran to
the doors and disappeared into the warmth of the school.
Still, no one moved.
I returned to my car, started it and when I got the green light, I moved. No one moved until I did.
What a powerful moment.
I was prepared to face the wrath of a lot of angry people and I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Instead, I encountered an outpouring of a lot of love.
Was that the power of one person? No. It was the power of the community. But that moment started
with the action of one person. In that instance it was me. As I said, that changed my life. I started stepping up more and more. My actions weren’t always supported as lovingly as in that instance. Sometimes, I didn’t think I could go through with it as it was terrifying. Sometimes I thought I would vomit because I would get so nervous about “taking that step off the curb.”
I learned one person makes a difference all the time. I see it constantly in our community. Su,
Elizabeth, Carol, Jinx, Maureen, Janet, Rob, John, Lucia, Ron, Leslie, Susan, Julia, to name a few and
leaving out so many.
Let’s talk about Julia Kennerly
Julia Kennerly has been stepping “off the curb” and making a difference in our community. I wanted to
share some of the experiences I have had with Julia to give others an idea as to how one person can
make a difference.
1. Julia let us borrow her dishes for use at Motown Memories so we could move the event to zero-
2. She showed up many times as a hike volunteer with the Rise and Shine hiking program.
3. She stepped up to move a community gathering towards zero-waste.
4. She helped move a boy scout dinner towards zero-waste.
5. She spread the word about those events and encouraged a community member to contact
Conservers for guidance and support towards moving school events she was involved in
6. She helped make cloth napkins for Cup and Saucer during our sewing party.
7. After staffing a booth during Brevard’s Halloween Party, she asked for ideas on what kind of
give-aways the booth could use next year instead of the plastic spider rings. I have been thinking of that question ever since and I am thinking seed bombs may be an awesome giveaway. A seed bomb is basically a dirtball with seeds you can throw on bare ground. It is a super-easy way to plant and fun to make. We can make the soil locally through composting and collect local, native seeds.
Maybe instead of a give-away, the booth could facilitate the creation of community art as I have seen
done many times in Transylvania County.
Julia asked the question. That can have huge effects on our community. It can help move our
community to one that doesn’t honor give-aways at public events, especially ones that are in some
ways harmful. Asking that question can change everything. Julia may have initiated something huge
and fantastic in our community. Thank you Julia. The power of one person.