I Want a Community

I’ve been reading yet another homesteader diary, Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865: The Diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon, and I’m struck by the way the folks in this wagon train socialize. New travelers join the group, and suddenly there’s a party going on to welcome them. A storm comes up during a communal supper, so all the guests sleep over. I want that.

My parents’ generation had that. My mother and her siblings all lived within ten miles of each other after they got married, so get-togethers happened spontaneously. Aunt Margie would call Aunt Carm and say, “Rosie’s here. Why don’t you come over.” and so on, and so on, until the whole family was together, laughing and talking and eating.

Sleepovers were the central events of childhood for my cousins and me.

Nowadays, so many people seem so isolated. They go to work and then step into their climate-controlled, electronics-filled homes, never to emerge until it’s time to go to work again. Or, they go to hyper-planned functions, whose schedules are stuck to the refrigerator door and scrutinized as if they contained the keys to wisdom.

I know that people have to go to work. I know that we aren’t crossing the plains. But I still believe that, with a little more effort, we could create more community for ourselves.

I want somebody to come over for coffee in the morning. I want to have a spontaneous get-together some Saturday night. I want to have dinner parties that my friends actually make the time to attend.

We’ve been working on that last wish, and it’s been happening. All it took was a little more effort from everyone involved.

As much as possible, I want my child to be around people I love and people who love her. If I have to do some community organizing to make that happen, I can do it! With a little help from my friends . . .

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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cherish said,

    That’s part of why I like living in North Dakota. For many people, especially those who came from or still live in small towns, this is just the way that life works. If I have free time on the weekend, I call a friend and we go out for coffee. I will chat with the neighbors if we’re both outside working on our yards.

    I hate to say it, but I think some of this comes from a mentality that family and community are really important…something that people in bigger cities lose sight of. And I guess I’d like to go back to North Dakota because I don’t want to lose that for my kids.

  2. 2

    Karen said,

    I am really lucky in this respect, I’ve got four lifelong friends within about 20 minutes of me, one of whom homeschools too, and it is like having sisters around – we do have spontaneous get-togethers, and make time for each other in small ways (5 minutes on the phone) and big ways (annual camping trips). Only now, from the viewpoint of middle-age, can I see how pivotal these people are, in my life and my husband and sons’ lives, as well.

    Susan, best of luck in finding this community – I want all those things for you, too πŸ™‚

  3. 3

    Jo said,

    I grew up in a small farming community, but had a family that was more of the isolative type. As an adult, I lived in larger cities and liked it because I could be anonymous in a crowd. When I moved back to a small town because of who I married, however, I discovered community. It didn’t come right away, and I had to put myself out there in order to get others to join in. Now, however, I have a close-knit group of friends, and know most of the people in the community on some level. Community has been a great blessing for me, and giving to it has given me so much.

  4. 4

    Colleen said,

    Me too! Someone posted a framed photo on a telephone pole in my neighborhood that listed a whole bunch of “Ways to Build Community.” It was really cool. I’ve been meaning to have a block party or something ever since I saw it. Haven’t done it yet. I’m going to though!

  5. 5

    sunnymama said,

    Yes! I think as humans we have an instinctive need for community and unfortunately that’s sometimes hard to find in this modern society and we have to find new ways to make communities.

    We are very lucky to live in a housing co-operative with big shared gardens and there is a strong sense of community which I find so very beneficial for sunnyboy to be a part of, but it’s still not a community to the extent that I dream of, and it sounds like you do too. Also when sunnyboy was very small I asked two long-term close friends of mine to be ‘special friends’ to sunnyboy, because we don’t have close extended family (either physically or emotionally) and he doesn’t have godparents. Actually another way I found a community for us was by volunteer work and in the more than two years that sunnyboy and I have been working there we have become almost part of a family with the others who volunteer. So I think it can be done and as you said it’s important for our children to be around people we love and who also love them.

  6. 6

    sunnymama said,

    Oh, and if I lived a bit closer I’m sure I would be calling round often to see if you had the kettle on πŸ™‚

  7. 7

    […] Gaissert presents I Want a Community posted at The Expanding […]


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