Community. Do you have one?
If you answered yes then you are who some would consider to be the fortunate ones. You have either made a decision to be involved in one, live in one, or have created one around you. Your community may be the people you live close to, or the people with whom you spend your time. When people are suddenly in a situation where they are in need, it’s then that they recognize that they either do, or do not, have a community around them. Those who don’t may be alone for many reasons, but two stand out. Either they have chosen to live separately, or they live in an environment where everyone is so busy with their own lives that they don’t know the people next door. It is this latter group for whom this article is written.
After a disaster, one of the most common recorded statements is in reference to how the “community really came together”. Splashed across the news are stories of people helping one another, sharing resources to others in need or lending a hand to someone they hardly know. This is a wonderful phenomenon, but it’s sad that it takes a disaster to force us to meet our neighbours. Imagine if this same group of people had some idea of the skills and resources among them ahead of time. How much better prepared they would be!
So what can you do to help define the community that’s around you? There are the obvious answers – one being to get to know your neighbours, but for some that’s an intimidating prospect. Not sure where to start? Then try these well-known, but often neglected suggestions:
- Go to or hold a neighbourhood BBQ
- Garage sales – go chat with the neighbour who is hosting it, or host one yourself
- Go for walks in your neighbourhood and look those you pass in the eye and say hi
- Though somewhat cliché – go ask your neighbour for a cup of sugar. Really. Go do it.
- If you hear that a neighbour has been ill, bring over a meal
- Offer to help shovel a driveway or mow a yard
- If someone new moves into your neighbourhood, bring them a plant or a treat and welcome them. Unfortunately this is a lost act of kindness in a lot of neighbourhoods.
There is strength to be found in having a community. If you don’t have one yet, then take a moment and reach out to those around you the next time an opportunity arises. You never know what lifelines you may be establishing without even realizing it.