A Civic Event: Gifts

On December 6, 2023, the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Citizen University, and HD South, Home of the Gilbert Historical Museum, produced the second Civic Event, here in Gilbert. Hosted at HD South, 20 community members came together, inspired by the season, to share stories about meaningful gifts and what these gifts reveal about the giver.

What does this time of year mean for you? Tis the season, yes, but for what, exactly? Maya Angelou said: “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Giving sets us free. This civic event was an exploration into giving and what giving makes possible.

The group delved into deeper conversations examining this inquiry:

In 100 years, what will historians say about how we gave to each other? Will they be able to tell how we’ve served each other? How can we offer greater gifts to each other, to the planet, and to our future?

With lovely melodies played on the acoustic guitar by David Oxford and a delightful charcuterie table set up by Amy Gerken, guests were motivated to share and participate. Book ended with inspiring poems, read by Mark Bergerson of The Arizona Group and local community leader and business owner Sharon Kotsonas, as well as a civic message delivered by Elaine Kessler of the Gilbert Chamber, the event was designed to be brief but poignant.

Some key takeaways from the discussion included the following:

  • Based on our landfills, historians may marvel at our obsession with material things and may surmise that we live in a disposable and possibly careless culture.
  • Some believe today’s youth will save us; others believe the opposite is true.
  • The gifts we give can exist in the stories we tell and that get told about us. These stories live on orally and in written form – like in obituaries, funerals, and programs like StoryCorps and Storyworth.

In a design thinking-based activity, participants offered ways to give all year long and these included the following:

  • Always encourage young people in any was possible
  • Check in with an elderly friend or neighbor
  • Volunteer, donate, become a member at arts and cultural institutions, such as HD South
  • Volunteer, donate, become a member at organizations that support our entrepreneurs and businesses, such as the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce

The next free civic event, open to the public, will be in the first quarter of 2024. Stay tuned.

If you would like to contribute to a future civic event by way of poetry, art, music, delivering a civic message, or sponsorship, please reach out to Elaine Kessler Elaine@gilbertchamber.com 480.941.6321