I’ve chosen these two pictures for community: the handouts from an advocacy How-To talk, and an empty casserole dish from a potluck. The many sides of community!
As much as I love home and my own small family, my purple house doesn’t sit alone out in a wilderness. The temptation to just shut the gate and ignore the world has been real in the past year, however!
Community is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot but may not have hard and fast definitions. When people say things like “The disabled community” or “The homeschooling community” they may just mean all the people that fit that category, whether or not they are in any communication or connection with one another.
Or people come to church saying they are “looking for community” and what they mean is often that they are looking for a network of people who think and act like they do where they can make friends.
I understand and appreciate both of those kinds of communities. Because I homeschool, I have a vested interest in staying part of “the homeschooling community” and keeping my memberships in advocacy groups up to date, and it’s always good to connect with others facing similar challenges as you are.
But the kind of community I am lifting up for my gratitude today is more of a broad community of mutually recognized interdependence and mutual obligation. This very broad definition of community means that my neighbor and I may not love hanging out with each other, but if we see smoke or hear unusual noises on each other’s properties, we will investigate and respond. It means that when a branch falls in the road or there is roadkill out there, either I or one of my neighbors will likely clean it up. That’s easy, simple neighborly community.
Pushing farther away from home, this kind of community means participating in local organizing, volunteering, and politics. It means that when there is a volunteer work party to plant trees or remove invasives in a local park, or when there is a hearing at City Council about a new ordinance, that folks show up, not just for the fun of it (although it can be fun) but also because we have a responsibility to the larger quality of life in our town. And it goes on and on and on ….
I’m fortunate to have a lot of community. I’m a member of a local women’s service and empowerment organization. My kids are both in scout troops. We’re members of a local homeschooling group. We have church. We have friends and workplaces that seek to foster postitive community in the workplace, and we have extended family. And we show up for and support many other community organizations and events and causes.
All of this contributes to my sense of connection and mutual obligation, and research indicates that it also contributes to my resiliency (AND, bonus, I’m contributing to the resiliency of others too!).
So, a big Thank You for everyone who creates community, and to everyone who shows up with both a willingness to help others AND for those who are in need and willing to accept help. It’s a beautiful big blanket of mutuality.