Community

Community engagement is often pushed to the side by the demands of a high consumption life. A society or individual might be booming economically, but dedicating too much attention to consumption and the acquisition of wealth, to the detriment of family and community life, can lead to an individualistic society of frantic, agitated, and alienated egos. Many affluent societies today would be better off choosing less stuff, and more community. Furthermore, community is the driving force of social change. By living simply, there is more time to cultivate community and enjoy our civic responsibilities.

  • Sharing your stuff: Which community is richer – the one in which everyone has their own? Or the one in which there is less but people share? By sharing our resources, our communities get richer, without increasing overall consumption. For example, not everyone in the street needs a lawn mower, since it sits idle almost everyday. Why not have one lawn mower for several houses? Lend when ask and borrow when necessary.
  • Sharing your skills: Sharing our stuff promotes community, and so does sharing our skills. Chances are there is a wealth of expertise of various forms in your community. Sharing skills is a great way to help us escape reliance on the formal economy, and it’s also a great way to meet new people and interact with different generations.
  • The Sharehood: There is a great website that is designed to make sharing easy. The Sharehood aims to build joyful, sustainable, and resilient communities by encouraging people to get to know their neighbours and share with them. This website is helping create vibrant communities where people share locally and meet their needs and help others do the same. Check it out and sign up! It may be worthwhile doing a maildrop around your neighbourhood too, letting people know about this amazing resource and encouraging them to sign up.
  • Film nights: One great way to cultivate community and promote good causes is to organise film nights / afternoons in your community. Who doesn’t love a good film? Most communities have a venue that will allow free access to a room (e.g. a library, community organisation, etc.). Print out some posters and stick them up around your neighbourhood inviting people to attend. There are many great films freely available on you-tube or vimeo (e.g. “Home,” “The Power of Community,” “The End of Suburbia,” “Life after Growth,” etc.). After the film, have a cup of tea and a discussion.
  • Transition towns: The Transition Town Movement is taking hold across the world, and it is a source of great hope. This movement is a community-based response to the dual crises of peak oil and climate change, and its participants are not waiting for governments to fix our problems. Instead, they are just getting work, building a new society from the grassroots up. Do some reading on Transition Towns. Then get a few like-minded people together, and start your own. From little things big things grow.

4 Comments

  1. If there isn’t a LETS near you, set one up. It’s a great way to get involved in alternatives way of ‘trading.’

  2. See if your neighborhood has a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS). This is where local people arrange to barter goods and services, rather than rely on money.

    I hadn’t heard of the Sharehood. Sounds fab.

  3. This section should include Book Groups!

  4. Thanks for this discussion. There is so much hope in community and connection. Community is the essential ingredient to a fulfilled life. How much sweeter a success when your community acknowledges you. When we need support or journey through a difficult time, it is the comfort of others that pull us through. Alone is lonely. Feeling alone makes us vulnerable to fear. Fear causes us to bind together for all the wrong reasons. In our work at http://www.seekingcommunity.ca we are finding that connection is possible if we become intentional about community. I can share more but our formula is simple. As neighbors find ways to have fun together, this builds resilience between people. Learn to care for one another be that joining a neighborhood watch program, seniors visitation program or starting an informal childcare coop. Learning about and acting on simple ways of taking care of each other helps us feel the benefit of community quickly. The third and maybe most effective way to experience community is to work together with others to build a better world. Collective altruism opens us to each other as we collectively open to create a good that is outside of ourselves. As we give we receive feeding the universal need to care and be cared for, opening our hearts to each other and what is possible. Feeling hope and the joy of a job well done. Community has huge possibility in these chaotic times. So glad you are discovering and sharing it here.

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