What is community? Well according to the dictionary, a community is: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. Well OK, if the book says so, but that’s a pretty vague description.
Here is the definition according to a science dictionary. A community is: A group of organisms or populations living and interacting with one another in a particular environment. The organisms in a community affect each other’s abundance, distribution, and evolutionary adaptation. Depending on how broadly one views the interaction between organisms, a community can be small and local, as in a pond or tree, or regional or global, as in a biome. Well that’s more like it.
To me, the first definition is obtuse and does not evoke any emotion from me. We live in the same area; share a government and a few commonalities. Big deal! Does this statement cause me to want to get together with neighbours, go to local events, invest my time and money within the community and ultimately be part of the bigger picture…..NO!
Although I don’t normally refer to myself as an organism, I do like the scientific definition so much more. I want to live and interact with friends, family, neighbours, groups, organizations, and government in a nurturing environment.
Do I want to be part of something that affects mine and someone else’s abundance? You bet I do. I want my family, neighbours, community groups, businesses, schools and government to be successful. I want them to give as much as they get, to strive to set and achieve their goals, and to be part of the bigger picture. I want to be able to say that I had something to do with that success.
Do I want to be part of the distribution of all the talent, knowledge, and treasures that a community holds? Of course I do. I want people to know of the amazing talents of some of our residents, the passion of our leaders, both in organizations and government, the desire that many people have to make things better for our community both locally and globally. I want to have pride in the people and spaces around me.
Do I want to be part of the gradual adjustment to become better, to survive and multiply within my community? Why would I not? I want my family to see that their efforts and contributions are valued and important in the growth of community, for my children to be able to dream of a bigger and better life for themselves, without having to move away to get it. I want to know that my investments of time and money are helping to grow a community that would cause more people to want to be a part this nurturing and growing environment.
I want all of these things, but unless I am willing to go out and do the work, and meet the people, and visit the places, and be part of the bigger picture I cannot expect these community building blocks to form on their own. I must be willing to make a conscience effort to put my friends, neighbours, schools, local businesses, organizations and government first. If I want to feel valued, to feel that what I do and say are important, to become part of something that is bigger than better than what I have now, I must put community first and do what Mahatma Gandhi suggests and, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Valerie Loseth