“This stand changes the neighbourhood.” “People stop and talk to each other.”
These are some of the words I heard at a Christmas tree stand in the upper east side of Manhattan last week. The simple stand is a true symbol of knowledge sharing in this NY neighbourhood.
For eleven months of the year, people come and go on this urban block but rarely have time to stop and chat. The stand appears Thanksgiving weekend and lasts until Christmas Eve. During the month, thousands of locals stop in at the stand to talk about politics, the economy, religion and their lives. They bring food, drink and other snacks as gifts to the sellers who live on the street during this time. They are happy to share, to give and to have someone listen.
Often a few folks gather together and it turns into a group conversation. People note that this doesn’t happen any other time of the year. The stand creates a reason for people to stop and check in. They like it and wait for this time of year when they know the trees will go up, the boys will be back and they can enjoy their neighbourhood the way one imagines a neighbourhood should be. This was what it was like before we got too busy to get to know one another, to listen, to share and to give.
My Knowledge Management lens is broadening. What the water cooler does for an office, the Christmas tree stand does for this East side neighbourhood.