Community can be one of those words - like God, or love, or death, or consciousness - that's too large to submit to any single, brief definition. - M. Scott Peck
In May’s Life in the City column, I conveyed my thoughts on the process of how community takes form. I pondered our community becoming more than the sum of our neighborhoods.
Several recent events have made me stop and contemplate how community is in fact more complex.
While attending the “State of the District” dinner in Little Italy and experience Midtown Church come together for “The Land of AAAHS,” many memories re-surfaced about the sense of community I knew back in my youth.
I remember days (and nights) when children could walk down the street without fear; doors remained unlocked and keys were left in the car. We walked to the park for a community pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning, and enjoyed spaghetti feeds or cake walks at the neighboring grade school.
Granted, this was in the “Mayberry, RFD” era, and I lived in a small town where a majority of the residents were related by blood or marriage.
Nowadays, our traditional extended families are nearly nonexistent, and even our immediate families are spread to the ends of the earth. Those small-town, faraway era days have passed for me, and for most of you.
However, I can write with a reason of certainty that we all long for that sense of community. We know how and why community is formed, yet it’s more than just that. It is complex sense of genuinely feeling connected, even if we don’t know everyone in the room. It’s an intangible feeling of belonging in a relaxing and accepting environment. It feels magical.
How can we balance our busy lives with jobs, family, friends, exercise, hobbies, and our passions and still have interest and time to invest in creating our community?
I wonder… When will we create magic?
Here’s what community means to these Downtowners:
Working together to make our surroundings a better place is how Norman Moran (Treo) defines community. He senses the comfortable feeling of family when he attends Midtown Church.
Community is walking down the street or into a community event, knowing people’s names and knowing they know mine; it’s a feeling of being safe and welcome. – Kara Galasso-Garcia (Villa Maria)
Attending the Little Italy “State of the District” dinner, Holly Saenz (Yellow House on State) feels community as she sees all her friends, gets the latest scoop on what’s going on and eats great food from the neighborhood.
Even though we live in a city, we can still have that
cherished, small-town community feel. We are all responsible
for making communities within communities, each connecting
us all as one. - September 2004