May 28, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

I have seen the future, and it seems to work well enough. Who would have guessed it would be based on raspberries?

A landing party has returned from the Land of After, and all their preliminary reports are excellent. At the beginning of our journey across the Sea of During, Hope envisioned what recovery might look like for the foreseeable future and came up with the following observations:

  1. Social distancing would limit the number of people who could gather in any room. For example, in Hope’s largest meeting room a daily noontime Narcotics Anonymous meeting averaged about 50 people. With social distancing? At most 10 people could be in the room.
  2. During the pandemic, Zoom meetings with Brady Bunch grids would have to suffice. Individual people would virtually gather with two-dimensional images representing their joy, sorrow, pain and human struggles.
  3. We figured he future would have to offer a hybrid, a marriage of these two experiences.

Having a keen mastery of fairly useless information, I know a raspberry is composed of 50 or so “drupelets,” the individual balls of goodness arranged in a Fibonacci sequence. A drupelet is not a raspberry, yet raspberries don’t exist without them. Raspberries, made up of drupelets, are the future of recovery, and yesterday saw the introduction of this new fruit into the universe.

Seven Hope members and four staff came to the center, answered a series of questions, disinfected their hands and donned masks. Practicing proper social distancing, they, along with a handful of Zoom remote participants formed a collection of drupelets. In three separate rooms (the conference room, the meeting room and the smaller room called “the Fishbowl”) the same All-Recovery meeting was held simultaneously. Connected by faith, hope and, most important, whiz-bang technology, these drupelets became a berry.

Folks had a chance to gather in small groups, experiencing the infinitely huge layers of communication we transmit with our bodies. This need for community, whether represented by religious services, group singing or gathering around a fire, is real and imbedded deeply in our hearts and our bones. The sense of being one among many while forming a new entity—the drupulet—can’t be satisfied in isolation.

What Hope has done is unite those drupelets using big-screen televisions, 360-degree Owl Pro video cameras at the center of each room and Zoom. Thanks to a generous grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, we’ve created three drupulet centers, rooms where five to 10 people can gather while still being part of something much larger—the raspberry of recovery.

Dawn, a Hope staff member, facilitated a meeting in the Hope conference room. She had four members with her, forming a small group. Bob, another staff member, was with three other members in the large conference room, forming another small group. At different points, Dave and I were in the fishbowl. Another handful of folks joined us through Zoom. In all there were eight or 10 drupulets combined into one berry. The participants tasted it and saw that it was good.

After the experience, the seven Hope members gathered for socially distanced pizza and discussion of the experience. They were all pleased, felt it worked “good enough” for them to support their recovery and support others, and wanted to be part of ongoing testing of the technology. When asked what grade they would give the experience, every single one of them gave it an A or an A-minus. I was honestly shocked and delighted at their shock and delight.

We’ll do more testing on this raspberry. Using focus groups, we’ll find ways to make this fruit sweeter, heartier, and stronger. Like research agronomists, we’ll try a lot of things, throwing out those that don’t work and keeping those that do.

The important takeaway: the recovery raspberry has been invented.

You matter. I matter. We matter.


p.s. Tomorrow’s letter: What about those who are allergic to raspberries?

%d bloggers like this: