Image: Todd Helzer

With a project like ours, we’re bound to grow a supportive community of friends and like-minded people. But, as we’ve traveled, we’ve sensed that there’s more going on. We’re starting to see those following our story taking action. Recently, in North Carolina, the family we were interviewing and staying with gave us a word to describe our growing community: TRIBE.

“We ought always to try to influence others for good.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

When you hear the word “tribe,” you might get an array of mental images. Our family thinks of Native American tribes, and we look forward to learning more about our own Cherokee heritage in Oklahoma. We think about our loved ones and friends, who are spread out across Africa, working with a variety of indigenous communities and tribes. My husband, Matt, recalled a book he read by Seth Godin called “Tribes”, about creating and leading movements of change.

But when our new friends gave us the word “TRIBE,” it gave a name and description to the powerful, growing community of like-minded people who have decided to participate in the Generation of Generosity movement. Dozens of kids and their families have invited us into their homes so that we can interview them and share their stories with the world. Hundreds have made financial contributions to support us and help us make this film project a reality. Many have given us a place to park our van and trailer, a warm shower and a meal, or even the chance to do a load of laundry—or three. Recently, we’ve been hearing about ways folks have decided to be change-makers themselves. When our son, Jack, proposed his #31DaysOfGiving idea here in Conscious Magazine, a lot people latched on and a 7-year-old even created an event to support us!

As we’ve watched the movement start to take shape, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and about living generously because of the Tribe.

Our own “tribe of five” is getting closer and closer every day. We grow closer, learning more about one another, and learn to trust one another in new ways. It’s far from perfect and often quite messy, but as we learn to trust and accept that making mistakes is part of the process, we steadily learn together how to manage life and its stresses.

What’s mind-blowing is that we’re learning how to better manage some of the things that we struggle with by watching others approach their lives in healthier ways than we do. When we ask questions to these kids and their parents, who are already making such a difference in the world, we learn to be better moms and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters with each other. We’ve learned how to better educate our kids and how to approach life’s stages, whether it’s helping our kids as they enter adolescence or relating to our parents as they age and retire.

Sharing our story and listening to others’ stories requires vulnerability that can be uncomfortable, yet necessary to produce a stronger and healthier tribe. If you invest in a community instead of things your life will be richer. Wherever you go, even if you find yourself alone, have courage to develop community through vulnerability and you will create a community wherever you are.

“It shows our club is doing some good in the world. Mrs. Allan says that ought to be our object in everything.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

As we’ve stated before, being with and learning from these young change-makers has made us think about how we can live differently — not just when we return to “life as usual” but now, on the road. In December, Jack launched his #31DaysOfGiving challenge and asked the tribe to continue the spirit of generosity present around the holidays into January. Several individuals and families have accepted the challenge. We were even the recipients of a “Philanthroparty” thrown by one of our good friends back in Pasadena who is becoming a change-maker, too. For his 7th birthday, our buddy, Will, decided that instead of receiving gifts for himself, he would ask his guests to make donations to One Year Road Trip! We were honored and humbled by this young man’s courage and generosity, but were most excited by his reflection on the experience. When he talked with his parents afterwards about the event and how he’s making a difference in our lives and in the world he concluded, “I am special.” And he’s right. He’s using his generous heart and the resources he has to be a change-maker, and he’s a powerful member of the Generation of Generosity Tribe.

Like Will, our family has found that practicing generosity makes us more aware of the needs of others and how we can step in to make a difference. We’re also seeing ourselves differently. We’re seeing that we are part of a larger whole. We’re seeing that we can make the world better. Every day. And that’s the point, really.

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At Conscious, remarkable people and organizations inspire us, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human interest stories, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.

Editorial Collaborator: Read Matt Webb’s interview here to learn about his family fulfilling a dream to travel the US and film a documentary about a Generation of Generosity through One Year Road Trip. Also, be sure to check out their monthly column here on consciousmagazine.co featuring their Generation of Generosity stories.