With me was an awesome Cubanita from Miami who is planning to move to Nashville with her husband and 3-year-old son. We connected through her best friend, also a Miami native and Nashville resident. She thought the Cubanita that I am could convince her Cubanita best friend that she too could live here.
When we parted yesterday afternoon, she said: “I am seeing it with new eyes.”
She now believes she can live here…so far from the Motherland and Hialeah. (I think it helped that another friend of mine, a woman I call the Center of the Cuban Universe in Nashville, joined us for lunch.)
I swear, I think I could be a tour guide in this town. I love telling people about Nashville, pointing out the cool, the unusual. I think I could be some kind of Chamber spokesperson because I love it here. I love the history, the idiosyncrasies, the music. Oh goodness, the music.
This morning, I happened upon a Nashville-based group, Help-Portrait, that is encouraging photographers across the country to take portraits of people in need, print and give it to the person. I watched a video of one shoot and cried.
Not an hour later, the local NPR station ran a story about a Nashville-based online store, Mekong Blue, that helps women in Cambodia sell silk scarves around the world. Those scarves helps feed families, and as the story goes, keep women from joining the sex trade out of desperation.
It got me thinking about how many good, charitable ideas come out of this city. How many people I know who volunteer their time, give their money, loan their talents to help make this a better place. Their work spreads across the country and the world. They change lives.
These two others quickly come to mind:
The Rev. Becca Stevens, a supremely interesting Episcopal priest, founded Thistle Farms, a non-profit operated by the women of Magdalene House, a residential community for women with a history of drug addiction and prostitution. Stevens founded and runs Magdalene House as well. The Thistle Farms body lotions, candles and bath products are sold on-line and across the country and they not only help fund the non-profit, but teach the women business skills.
Sam Davidson, a young Nashvillian, co-founded Cool People Care, connecting volunteers with need and encouraging people to make a difference daily, even if it is just cutting a shower short by a minute each day. His site and book are full of ideas.
I am sure there are others…
If you are looking for gifts that make a difference, consider Thistle Farms and Mekong Blue…
And, if you ever need a tour of Nashville, let me know.
Here is the Help-Portrait video about the Nashville test shoot that made me cry: