Saturday, April 13, 2013

building a sense of community

It is spring! We are out and about in the neighborhood. It has been nice. This winter has seemed so long. I have missed socializing in the neighborhood. It seems like we have all been hibernating all winter. (I know I have). It seem that I have been very un-social lately. I get in my car, run my errands, get back in the car, back home. Sometimes we are the same with work. We go to work and back home; that is all.  We do not get to know anyone outside of the office and home.

There is something about getting to know the people in our neighborhood. There is something about a friendly smile, a nod, a wave. It seems that we are in such a hurry and so buried in our own little lives, that we do not take the time to get to know those in our community. We don't know our neighbors. We don't acknowledge those who serve us in our community. When was the last time you actually said hello to the cashier at the grocery store. Do you say hello; or do you just grunt at them like so many others?  Did you thank them for their service?  Would your mail carrier fall over with surprise if you gave them a friendly wave?

 It was not so long ago that these gestures were common. People smiled and talked with one another. They waved to one another. They knew each other. We knew knew those that served us, we knew the people in our neighborhood. Think back to childhood and that song on Sesame Street; "Oh the                is a person in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood,......... It's the people that you meet when you're walking down the street, It's the people that you meet each day" (Go ahead sing along I know you know it.)

Having a sense of community is good for us all. It helps build us socially and emotionally. I think all to often we feel so alone. We do not feel a part of anything more than the electronics that we surround ourselves with. We drown ourselves in the media, and it makes us feel worse than ever. We go to a doctor; get a prescription for a drug trying to make ourselves feel better; when what we really need is to get out and say hello to our neighbors. We are social creatures who have forgotten how to be social. We fool ourselves into thinking that we have connected on facebook and twitter. Although I have kept up with people on facebook, it is not the same as face to face contact.

So what do we do?  Get out and make some real connections. When you are engaged with a grocery clerk, or the cashier at the gas station, make eye contact, be sure to say hello, and thank you.  Say hello to people that you meet. Turn off the electronic devices and be aware of the people that are around you. I have a new goal and resolution, If I do not know the name of a person that I have seen about the neighborhood, I am going to introduce myself. I am going to make a point to get to know at least two people a month.

A number of years ago I read an interesting short story written by E. M. Forster. It is an interesting tale written in 1909, about a society that has come to a point where a machine has taken over their lives. It is written from the eyes of a young man, who wants to dream, who wants to have a life outside the  machine. He is looking for community and is not finding it. It is very interesting reading. Although it is science fiction, many parts of it have become reality.  I would encourage taking the time to read this little story. See what happens.


  1. So true. It can make all the difference in the world to start with a genuine smile and "hi, how are you?" regardless of it is a person on your street or your cashier!

  2. We lived in a neighborhood where no one talked to each other and slowly those people have moved out and friendly people have moved in. I am starting to see people coming out of their house after the long winter. I hope to meet a lot of new neighbors :)