By Kate Luczko, executive director of Stay Work Play
Editor’s note: With all the talk about the graying of New Hampshire, Stay Work Play is doing its part to balance out the trend by promoting New Hampshire as a favorable place for 20- and 30-somethings to launch their careers. Young professional networks are growing, too, with 11 organizations across the state and more than 10,000 members.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Shaker. As I was growing up in Canterbury, there were many school field trips and family visits to Shaker Village. When I was five years old, I remember my Mom took a cooking class at Shaker Village with Eldress Bertha Lindsay. Eldress Bertha was blind, but was an amazing cook.
The Shakers were fascinating to me then, as they are now. They had a culture that was unique and innovative. Despite the magic I felt when visiting Canterbury Shaker Village, I don’t think I knew then exactly why I wanted to be a Shaker.
I have three half siblings, whom I wholeheartedly consider to be my full brothers and sister, but because they all lived with their other parent, my growing-up years were spent primarily as an only child. Even though I had a very happy childhood, looking back on it now, I think my wish to be a Shaker was actually a desire to be a part of a community.
Especially given my work now with Stay Work Play, I have developed a great appreciation for this state and what makes it such a special place. One attribute is the number of very different, and yet overlapping, communities you will find. When I was younger, I babysat a lot. I was also heavily involved in the contra dance community. I attended contra dances around the state as a dancer and a musician.
Later, I went to college at UNH Manchester, and now, through my work with Stay Work Play, have an opportunity to connect with colleges and universities all around the state. I’ve worked for a variety of companies and volunteered for even more.
Through these seemingly unrelated experiences, I have found common threads and have learned valuable lessons. I went on a job interview at a company that unbeknownst to me was owned by a couple I had babysat for eight years prior. I have been to business conferences and met people I had known before by first name only as they came through a contra dance line. There have been many of these connections and I am sure there will be even more in years to come.
When asked what I love most about New Hampshire, I often tell people that you can make a difference here. You can be known and you can have an impact. Most of all, I love the small world stories. Those moments when you find out that your community lines are overlapping and someone you knew “in another life,” or someone who knew someone you know, has suddenly made an appearance in your present day.
Since I was a child, I thought that these communities existed like bubbles, each complete and independent — though sometimes bumping into or joining up with other bubbles. I have come to realize that the real community is New Hampshire itself. I understand that I don’t need to become a Shaker to feel as though I belong to a community; I simply need to take advantage of the community that exists all around me. This thought and those small world stories warm my heart, make me smile, and affirm why I love staying, working, and playing in the Granite State.
Learn more at www.stayworkplay.org