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Community. Now there's a big word. During the last several months this word has increasingly come up in conversation. Most recently, I was talking with some mid-twenties folks about an app called Tinder; a thirty-something young man about community structures, power, and influence; and friends about the building of mega-churches.
I remember being raised in a vital neighborhood community; a place where I knew our neighbors and they knew me (they felt free to correct my behavior whether I needed it or not), a place where my peers and I settled disputes on our own, where I never felt lonely or isolated. We spent much of our time outside. TV was observed as a Sunday night thing, and the concept of regulated screen time was something we couldn’t have conceived of even in our wildest dreams.
I believe that we created a accessible community when raising Carly and our foster son. Since we weren't members of a church, and our extended families were not traditional (were even a bit fractured), we looked to our childhood friends, neighborhood, schools, and work communities to forge our own groups for companionship, growth, and support. Our community was inclusive and diverse. Our home became an epicenter of community celebrations, dinner parties, and play dates.
As Carly celebrated this last birthday, she planned a celebration with her newly-formed ski instructing community. Being the first time in a long while that our immediate family was all on the same continent for her birthday, it felt odd not to be at her celebration. She hosted it a couple of hours away on a work night, so I settled on being there in spirit. When I had a discussion with her about how odd being close but apart felt, she reminded me that we taught her as a child that birthdays were to be inclusively celebrated with one’s community. When she was in elementary school, we had a rule that every child from her class and our neighborhood was to be included in her party. We also had a no gift rule; we wanted to help her see that celebration with her community was about fellowship not stuff. I was glad for her insightful reminder that memories from her childhood are helping her to build and form strong adult communities.
What examples are you showing your children and the children around you about community building? How do you build community? What do you want or expect from the communities that surround you?
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