Written by: Chalks Corriette, European President, Brussels, Belgium
This short summary is my way of sharing with you my enthusiasm for strong communities. I don’t think its an exaggeration when I say there is nothing more important to any of us, than the communities that we are part of. I recently listened to a podcast where a lady told the interviewer that not being lonely meant having people around her to do nothing with. She felt that being connected to her many communities was key to her staying sane. For many people, it is not that they need to be occupied and out networking all of the time. The simple act of being with family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances or in public places where there are people to speak to, is good enough. This is what I mean by community.
It is strange that we live at a time when we have the ability to connect to everyone, yet the instances of loneliness are going up, not down. Why is that? Some say it is because life is faster and more expensive than in the past. Others may cite the fact that we have become more materialistic and that our quest for more and better everything is focused on stuff, and excludes human contact. What it comes down to, is that we all have our opinions. But people of science and academia have not found better solutions to what seems to be a growing human need to live within a strong community.
Communities collaborate, and support each and every person and the things that are important to that community. There is a sense of sharing burdens, celebrating successes, caring for the whole community unconditionally, leading to a bond that can weather all storms.
How can we help our community? You know that I am about to use the V word, as this is one way that makes a big difference. Yes, volunteering makes a significant contribution to all communities. You can volunteer to keep your street free of litter, contribute some time to visit or help elderly people on your street or living nearby, support your local school’s projects, lead a sewing bee or book club, host a coffee morning or tea afternoon, do things with your local scouting or youth group, help at your commune by collecting goods for the thrift shop or food bank, start a walking group or local gardening gathering – there are so many things that can be done. You can also include your family in doing things together with the community.
What I see is very interesting. Far from many people doing small things together to share the community spirit, I bump into the same 20 or 30 people leading all projects, volunteering where they are most needed, supporting initiatives where they live and also at the place they work. It seems that everyone wants to be connected to a thriving and fantastic community, and they assume that it will magically happen. I was once told that strong communities are an elusive thing that we all strive for, without knowing what it means anymore, and we no longer seem to possess the desire to make it a reality.
Do what you can, volunteer, contribute to your community. Life is delightful when people feel that they are not alone, that they can rely on their neighbours and that they can smile with everyone in their community.