Community is the strongest force to take on current and coming challenges. A town with a strong sense of community is a resilient, dynamic force that can overcome most anything. A town rich in community is a fun place to be! How can we create, foster and enrich community in Ashland?
I have plenty of friends. Why do I need to build community in my neighborhood?
Imagine a disaster like Superstorm Sandy hit us with houses ripped apart, roads impassable, no power, no way to get food or supplies -what would you do? Would your friends be able to help? Friends from other towns or even across town could not get to you to help under those circumstances but the people in your neighborhood could. You may not have a chainsaw to cut up the tree that is on your house but maybe someone on your street does. They may not have enough food to get through the week or two before the grocery stores get up and running again but you have a stockpile of food to share. In an emergency, it is nice to have the collective resources of the neighborhood to help one another out. In everyday life, having community in your neighborhood can create abundance. For instance, does everyone in your neighborhood have to have a hedge trimmer? Does someone have a particular skill that they can share with others? Is there someone on your street that makes the best guacamole? Are there a number of people with small children who can coordinate child care with each other? What do you have to offer? What do you need? Perhaps within your neighborhood you collectively have all the solutions to each others’ problems.
I am okay on my own; I can just make sure to have everything I need; chainsaws, food, etc.
Chances are, you don’t have every possible thing or have every possible skill. And, wouldn’t it be great to share some of your skills and passions with others? You could find that you have a fellow chess enthusiast just around the corner. The American way is to be self-sufficient and independent but that mentality can lead us to live isolated lives. Humans are social creatures. The advances we have made are because we collaborate and work together as a species.
I don’t want to share my tools because I don’t think that others will take care of them as well as I do.
Sharing resources can create friction but the process of coming to an understanding can build a strong, cooperative bond. Before giving up on the tool-sharing cooperative, ask yourself these questions: What tools are rugged and require minimal maintenance? What tools are delicate and need special care? What tools are so specific to a job that they will be rarely used? What tools can be misused and ruined? What tools need special training to use? What tools are dangerous? It would probably make sense to share tools that need minimal maintenance. Perhaps those are the only tools that are in the tool share “shed”. But perhaps you have a tool that is specific in nature and mostly is just being stored, collecting dust, that would make a great addition to the collection. But it is all up to you. No one has to share all their tools nor does everyone have to participate. Meet with your neighbors, discuss needs and concerns and come up with a plan.
My neighbors and I don’t have anything in common.
It may seem that way but often we brand people by such limiting categories such as Republicans, Democrats, religious nuts, skateboarders, hippies, etc. The person may or may not be that label and may or may not embrace it but whatever the case may be, that is not the whole of their being. Your neighbor may have strong religious convictions that you don’t share but you might find that you both really love gardening and that you each have something to learn from one another. The magic of community is rising above labels, categories and pigeon holes and learning what we have in common.