Probably the biggest change this year with Community Service Day is how it starts. Instead of meeting at school and then taking buses to service sites and then taking buses back to school, we’re starting our days at the sites where we’ll serve.
Part of this is logistical: each of the sites has a different schedule and different needs, and it would take a lot of buses, a lot of time–and a lot of money–to get people to school and out to sites and back again. Logistically, it proved simpler to have each student and faculty member just start the day where they’ll serve.
So that’s the practical reason. But there’s a deeper reason for what I wanted you all to see.
I wanted each member of our community to think about how we get to the places where we’re going to serve. I wanted us to each experience the journey from our doorsteps to theirs. What’s in the space between our homes and the places where the homeless sleep, where the poor eat, and where the elderly convalesce? Are you surprised by how small the distance is, or by how big it is? What’s different between your home and this place? What’s the same?
We’re riding city buses back to school for the same reason. Yes, part of it is that I’m a Muni fan and a regular 22-Fillmore rider when I’m not on my bike. But the symbolic reason is the same: this is our city, and it’s an especially small big city. The distance between the needy in the Tenderloin and our home in Pacific Heights is truly small, and I like the idea of us journeying through the city blocks that separate us. Ours is an extraordinary city with an abundance of blessings–our view of the Bay alone speaks to that–but there’s a lot of need too.
After we serve on the morning of March 8th, we’ll return to the Little Theatre in the Flood Mansion to eat lunch. We’ll eat in a room that has one of the most extraordinary views of San Francisco Bay that there is. As we eat together, I hope we’ll reflect on the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen, and the fact that we share this beautiful place.
So I am grateful, in advance, for the inconvenience that you’ll all face in journeying to these sites early on a Friday morning. Thank you for your time and your cooperation. And thank you for your service.