2022 Reflections

A Message from the Bedford House Board of Directors

In December, as the light of the day diminishes and cold descends, kin and kind draw closer to strengthen and celebrate our bonds, and say to the darkness “we beg to differ.”

For five years now, Bridges Peterborough has “begged to differ” with prevailing, divisive structures of class and privilege. We do this by listening to each others’ stories without judgment, experiencing abundance through sharing food, and bridging the gulf that life circumstances and a competitive economy can create between us. The “us” is composed of people who have lived experience of life under social and economic injustices and inequalities (aka “poverty”) and those who have not. Together, we build a bridge across the divide between us.  

On one side of the bridge are the “Catalysts” (We like this definition because it refers to something that changes something else but remains intact itself.) On the other side of the bridge are “Allies” or “Mentors.” 

Or to switch metaphors, a Bridging Team is a bit like being in a canoe. In the bow is the Ally paddler who doesn’t steer but lets the paddler in the back, the Catalyst, know about the water: if there are obstacles, eddies or rapids ahead. The stern paddler determines the direction of the canoe, and is assisted by ongoing dialogue with the bow paddler. Catalysts are the experts on their own lives, so they steer the canoe. They bring forward the stories at the core of life in society’s margins to meet stories by Allies or Mentors living more privileged lives.

They have made Bridges Peterborough the innovative success that our founders – Lynn and Allan Smith-Reeve – dreamed of.

We are grateful to our local community participants in the Bridging Teams, to our funders and supporters, and to all who have believed in us in so many ways.

We are committed to fulfilling your faith in us as together we weave broader social networks across economic class lines, create new leaders, and become neighbours together in community.

As we pause to celebrate this special Season and the start of new year, we join our prayers to yours for peace and justice in our communities .

Cheryl Lyon

Chair of the Board of Directors of Bedford House Community Ministries / Bridges Peterborough 

Meet the Bridges Peterborough Team, The Company of Conversation Changers, along with members of the Bedford House Board of Directors. (image source, K. Snajdr)

A Message From Bridges Peterborough

Dear friends, 

In this era when so-called “Market priorities” and the profit-driven political agendas that dominate our country have infected our Canadian values, and seeped into our cultural consciences, the dark days of December are a good time to light a candle and reflect.

When did we stop demanding that our governments care for the least of these? When did basic human rights to clean water, healthy food, ethically-produced clothing, a home, and an opportunity to contribute – become charitable causes instead of the backbone of what every citizen enjoys?      

Will we give birth to a new era when the earth’s abundance is stewarded as the divine source of all life and our human endeavours are grounded in seven generations’ values, instead of short-sighted political agendas that can’t see over the next hill of elections? 

Bedford House was born of a dream to gather the wisdom of small groups of ordinary people who learn to free themselves of the stigmas of “market priorities” that determine who deserves a slice of the pie – and who doesn’t. 

Our project, Bridges Peterborough is an experiment where “resourced” and “under-resourced” community members find common purpose in Changing the Conversation about Poverty and Privilege. 

Our hope is kindled as we see “resourced” citizens share time, money, and connections – and “under-resourced” citizens empowered with a living wage, in the work of finding and building new ways of being neighbours. 

May the returning light of another spin around the sun bring us all more inspiring stories of neighbours discovering the power of belonging – and serving – a higher purpose than the manufactured illusions of the corporate bottom line.   

“Whatever the problem – community is the answer.” – Margaret Wheatley

Reverends Lynn & Allan Smith-Reeve 

A Message From Lynn Smith-Reeve

One of my heroes is Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles.

Fr. Greg is an amazing storyteller and lately I have been remembering a story he told of his childhood. He and his siblings found a box of old records in the attic and were surprised to learn their mother had once been an opera singer! 

source: Canva

The name of the recording was “O Holy Night”. The kids brought it downstairs and played it over and over – so many times, in fact, they “played the grooves off”. 

Fr. Greg says, ‘Consequently, a line from the song found itself permanently etched in my brain – a mantra of sorts: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining – ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”’ and he links those lyrics to ‘the job description of human beings seeking kinship. It’s about “appearing,” remembering that we belong to one another, and letting souls feel their worth.’

Those words, ‘the soul felt its worth,’ have stuck with me and come back to me at odd times.

To me, that’s what we’re about at Bridges Peterborough – we’re about providing space for the soul to feel its worth. I’ve experienced it here and I know others have as well.

This season, may it be your experience – to be around those who witness to the fact that you are a gift to the world. May your soul feel its worth.


A Message from The Company of Conversation Changers 

We’ve had a busy and exciting year!
Members took part in the Bridges Peterborough Facilitator Training (BTFT) program to lead future Bridging Teams. We continue to build an environment where all voices are heard and expanding our involvement and roles within the organization.

Our thanks goes to community supporters and to funders through The Catalyst Fund.

Using the power of engagement, relationship-building, and storytelling, our continued mission is to play a stronger role in our community conversations and include people with lived experience at the planning tables where decisions are made.

We look forward to 2023 and to expanding how we change the conversation about poverty.

The Company of Conversation Changers, CCC