Opinion: Finding the common good

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber is a junior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].

If you’ve ever found yourself wandering the city of Kent wondering how to make it more appealing, you’re not alone. I often become frustrated with the constant construction in efforts to make the town more attractive to the bourgeois instead of working with the amazing potential it already has. I visited my hometown of Perrysburg over the weekend and found just that in Bowling Green.

Several years ago, a Lutheran minister named Bill Thompson created a center called The Common Good in order to serve students, the homeless and the community alike. Located just off the Bowling Green campus, The Common Good works out of a residential house with the tagline, “An experiment in living well.” And that’s exactly what it is – a place for anyone in need.

The house serves as a soup kitchen, library, meditation center and virtually whatever else people who are willing to seek it may need. Residing in the house are three Bowling Green students who host community meals for the public every Monday and Thursday and keep the welcoming mentality of the house alive.

One student, Scott Brummel, said he believes The Common Good gives those who enter a voice.

“A lot of people spend time talking about how the world is deteriorating and we’ve lost touch,” Brummel said. “The Common Good is a way to take action. We don’t want to live according to the status quo; we want this to be a place where weirdos and failures can come. We’re reinventing ourselves.”

Whether it’s members of PETA or the NRA, everyone is welcome at The Common Good. People don’t come to debate or preach – they come to empathize with those around them, no matter how different, and to find common ground in the human struggle.

When I went to The Common Good, I was pleasantly surprised by the representation of all different beliefs – pieces of everything from Buddhism to Christianity were on display. Literature of all types was readily available, and the meditation room upstairs was exceptional.

The most shocking part about The Common Good is that the doors are never locked. It is open to everyone both literally and figuratively 24/7, and its residents do an amazing job of personifying that idea.

I asked Brummel at one point, “Why all this effort? Why the emphasis on bringing people together?” He told me about the community garden that The Common Good began a few years ago and described how every person was responsible for a small plot of the garden. If they didn’t work together, the garden would fail.

“When working together,” he said, “the more you work, the better the outcome. Often, differences divide people. But when it comes down to it, those plants don’t give a shit about what you believe in. At the end of the day, they just need to be cared for. It’s the same approach that we take toward people.”

The Common Good gives me hope that there are still people who care about not only helping others, but also learning to find peace within themselves from those they assist.

I would love to see something like this bloom in Kent as well. All it takes is a group of people who seek peace and wish to share it. Maybe you’re one of those people.