What was, what already is, and is to be...

The high-pitched, windy sound of blow dryers fill Starfire’s kitchen. People on ladders blow hot air onto the decals that spell out the tagline: “To enrich the lives of teens and adults with developmental disabilities through unlimited opportunities that build independence and community inclusion.”

Letter by letter, the words peel off. Nails scraping against the yellow paint to bring them down.

Others passing by stop to see what the noise and commotion are all about.

“They’re taking down the words,” one would say.

“What’s going up there instead?” another would ask.

Paint chips left a dust like residue on the counter below.

We are constantly in flux at Starfire, in the details of our design, structure, and mindset. That’s not to say we are flitting about, some demolition here, a little construction there, voila, our work is done for today! Not sure of what tomorrow brings! Quite the opposite.

Commitment to truth simply takes time, and looks as non-linear as the bouncy flight of a butterfly, though year after year the butterfly still returns to the same tree during migration. We build with open minds. And open minds, just because they are open, do not mean they lack a set of values or ethics. They are “open” in the way of being hospitable. “Come in, have a seat, drink from my cup, I’ll ask how your day was.” I’ll listen with intent. Flexible structures still rest on a foundation, only they bend with the wind like the tall branches of an oak. Whatever time, whichever place, and whomever it serves, as unique as we all are, flexible structures don’t break easily.

So flux, as it grooves and grinds its way into our daily flow at Starfire, is actually a necessity to what we are about. It creatively binds us, and resourcefully commits us to our one constant, unwavering, paramount goal of inclusion. I think Tim calls it “one big tweak.”

The kitchen at Starfire is a central place. You are almost guaranteed to pass by it on your first visit. More important than reading that tag line are the people, the food, and the conversations around the kitchen island. Those are the things that set the table for each new visitor. Not disability, not non-profit-y jargon, not a slogan, but something real, genuine, that draws people to gather around.

So we took down the most contrived part of the kitchen, the least likely language to be heard spoken by any one of us. I sit and look now at the border around the kitchen, repainted yellow, a residue of what was looks back and me and grins. It served its purpose, and with honor and pride it has given up its place to make room for what is important now. It has created a path of calm waters, making what is now in front of us clearer and more genuine – and giving hope for what is to be across that great expanse, that blue horizon- a new world awaiting.

katie bachmeyer