Here’s another one from Utne Reader. Linda Buzzell writes about what it takes to build a sustainable community. Community- yeah, she’s right, we need it, we yearn for it, we miss it, we seek it out.
I remember growing up in a little fishing village on the beach in Florida. We used to have a real community there. Everybody knew each other and would keep an eye out for each other. Yeah, it was like a soap opera sometimes. But I always knew I was home, I fit in, I was accepted.
I moved to Texas when I was just barely 17. I didn’t know a single person. I moved there to go to school and luckily I found a community in my little group of fellow OMT students (Ocean Marine Technology).
We most definitely did NOT fit in with the rest of the school or the surrounding towns. 😉 Bunch of hippie ‘boat trash’ with long hair, shorts and flip-flops in a town where no one left the house without perfect makeup, new cars all washed and waxed. We were definitely on our own.
I made friends with the only other girl in the class. She took me to meet her ‘mother’ and we’ve been best friends ever since. That was over 30 years ago- wow!
With my friends from class, we went to the beach and had cookouts over the bonfire. We played music. We drank beer. We danced. We hung out with each other even when we weren’t in class. We had many similar interests. After all, we had come from all over the country to take this course in Ocean Marine Technology. We had an automatic community.
When I finished the program, most of my friends wandered off into the wild blue yonder and I never heard from them again. Only occasionally I’ll hear of someone or run into somebody in some unlikely place.
Since then, I’ve tried a few times to find or create another real community. I think I find it most easily at work. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy working at sea. After all, we are still isolated out here. In our own little world. We have to depend on each other for everything. To get our work done, to have someone to talk to, to help us if we need it, to take care of us if we get hurt. We get to know and care about each other. It is a community in its own right.
In the article, there’s a checklist for community building success. A list of 16 things to do or have. I think a lot of the things are good to have and I’ll definitely suggest them to our local meetup group (Campaign for Liberty). We’ve been struggling to grow and find more members.
We’re a community, we do a lot of those things, but maybe not consistent about it. Somehow we can’t keep the new people who come excited enough to come back, to join our community. What can we do to make them more comfortable? Maybe the things in the article will help. We can try…