Tips, Videos, Handouts

Welcome new members

In this video Craig explains why we should welcome, rather than resist, new people joining our group. Craig’s explanation touches on Maine’s reputation, Quaker practice, and the theory of evolution; and has implications for how to treat immigrants to our country, our state, or to any group.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey, it’s Craig Freshley here. Here in Maine we have a reputation for being, shall we say, protective of our native heritage. “If you weren’t born in Maine you’re from away.”

And you know what? It’s not just Maine people. There are a lot of groups who come across as being unwelcome to newcomers  – either in reality, or by reputation – but here in Maine we have another way to think of native Mainers and people from away. We have what I think is a better way to think of it, because I’m from away and I want to be included too. And that is: It’s not that some people are true Mainers and other people are from away. We are all Mainers, we are just different types – there are Mainers by birth and Mainers by choice.

I am a Mainer by choice. I was not born here, but I came here to college 30 years ago and I’ve chosen to live here. There is a similar kind of thing in the Quaker community. There are birthright Quakers and there are convinced Quakers. There too, I am a convinced Quaker. I was not born into the faith but I learned about it and I made a choice to join the faith.

Now wouldn’t we want to welcome and embrace people into our group who weren’t put there just by circumstance but who made a choice to join the group? My gosh, those are actually likely to be very good contributors to the group. Now, many of us are threatened by new people joining a group. What’s that about? It’s probably because we’re concerned that by new people joining the group, the group will change. Maybe the deeper fear is that if new people join the group, will have to change. It threatens my personal identity. But we know from science and from the theory of evolution that groups, species, and communities that are able to adapt and change those are the ones that survive.

So I’m here to say if you want your group to succeed and thrive, welcome those who choose to join the group because they believe in the group values. Those are actually the people you want to join your group. And if they have an effect on changing the group a little bit over time, that’s probably a good thing.

Thanks for listening, everybody. I hope you help your group make good decisions.

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