In building community, the first question may be in who to build community with – especially in such a divided society. However in seeking to find commonalities with not just those in our current circles, finding those channels may be hard to forge especially in times when smiles are distanced with masks and homemade baked goods between neighbors might not be as apropos as they used to be.
However community in fact may be right outside our door. We may need to expand our circles of comfort – to meet, join, invite and be genuinely kind, but it’s closer than we may realize. A simple recipe and building block of community would be to meet our neighbors…and remember their names. We need to approach to learn vs. tritely wave as we pull in the drive. We need to look past political views and find the hobbies, interests and the commonalities that lay a foundation of connection.
In dipping my toe into the water this past month, I focused and reached out and met my new neighbors Chris and Lindsey and their adorable Goldendoodle Oakley. It may not have been a BBQ or in house visit but the doggy play date in our back yard will undoubtedly lead to more.
I also chose to shop local. In doing that I knew I’d have to spend a few more dollars and venture out of the house with combed hair and pants pairing, and have been pleasantly surprised in friendly shop owners that would happily order something if out of stock, divvied out advice on a product and service and I was immediately reminded on how quickly relationships can form if I choose to engage.
In addition, I made a conscience effort to build community in every day tasks such as :
- Emailing my local librarian to ask advice for a book recommendation. (During COVID my librarian is working, just not available it visit in person)
- Committed to join an interest group to learn a new skill. (There is definitely connection in being vulnerable together!)
- Volunteering for a local non profit/charity – This can quickly build community especially a local organization or chapter as the often will call on you again.
- Avoided the self-checkout line at the grocery store with the goal of chatting up the cashier to make them genuinely laugh or brighten their day.
While the list is simple, it’s a start. It’s the adjustment of my previous behaviors in which I realize I have become distant and unconnected in a world of convenience. In building community, we need to remember the who – the people around us that long for connection as well and seek to be seen and recognized as individuals of worth. They are not all that different than us and by being proactive in building community, we can make it easier for those sincerely needing connection to be validated and accepted in ours.