As Americans, we share more than divides us. That’s the message of United America, and the four activity guides that give groups sure-fire ideas to explore the core values that unite us. Last week, we introduced Taste of Home, a group exercise that invites participants to tell family stories behind food traditions.
This week, we introduce Family Treasures, an activity groups are using with the United America book to connect the importance of the 10 core values to family stories about … treasures.
Using the word “treasures” is likely to spark thoughts of treasure hunting. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island has been re-made more than three dozen times for radio, TV and movie theaters. PBS’s Antiques Roadshow has been a hit since 1979 because it suggests that anyone might have a valuable treasure gathering dust at home. The idea of finding hidden treasure shows up in stories from the world’s oldest sacred literature—and it fuels customers for state-run lotteries around the world, today.
Along with the American Images and Taste of Home guides, this Family Treasures activity often summons deep emotion. Group leaders have told us about total strangers who have bonded over stories of objects as simple as a grandfather’s “dog tags” or a grandmother’s candy dish, a hard-earned Boy Scout award or a piece of embroidery created with a mentor, a work-worn hammer from an old tool chest or even a seasoned cast-iron fry pan.
We have seen truly precious objects: jewelry, rare stamps, an antique Persian carpet and even a 100-year-old baseball card. And we have heard stories with great emotion spun around objects no one else would even recognize: a chunk of copper ore from a mine or an iron handle from an old wood-burning stove.
This exercise invites surprises!
This week in OurValues.org, we’re going to share some of our favorite stories. So, stay tuned for the next four parts in this five-part series. Perhaps these stories will help you to ponder the stories behind objects in your home.
Perhaps you’ll want to share this series with friends. Now is a perfect time to build interest in starting a discussion series on United America.
Your story is important!
The purpose of the OurValues Project and the United America book is to get Americans talking with each other—friends, neighbors and even total strangers who may enjoy gathering to talk about the values that unite us. That’s a dramatic and refreshing change for a lot of us, these days.
Please, share this week’s series with friends on Facebook or by Email. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them in your small group to spark discussion. If you have a moment right now, add a comment below.
You can play an important role in building a healthier community.