Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Community Part I: A Definition


noun, plural -ties.
  1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
  2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
  3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the ): the business community; the community of scholars.
  4. a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
  5. Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
What's your definition of community? Here's mine: The place where I live, filled with the people around me, that make up the fiber of my life. My network, my comfort zone, my system.

Having lived in St. Paul but a short 5 1/2 years, I managed to entrench myself in the strongest community I've ever experienced in my entire life. It's amazing what having kids will do for your social life! Part of my strong community is a direct result of my involvement in the activities and organizations I value: ECFE, book clubs, Temple, the co-op day care, preschool. The other part of my strong community is inherent to where I live. The Twin Cities is an area that places a lot of value in community. The municipalities work hard to define and support neighborhoods, which creates a sense of pride in community. My neighborhood, Highland Park, is one such example. It's like living in a small town within a greater metropolis. There are the big city amenities, but you'll run into people you know everywhere you go. Some examples: the receptionist at our doctor's office (which is a 10 minute walk from our house) knows my kids, and let's Buggy play "receptionist" when we have an appointment, we see the librarian at Starbucks, the cashiers at our grocery store know us, I often see people I know driving, walking, or running. We run into friends at any number of places: the library, grocery store, Target, Starbucks, DQ, the coffee shop formerly known as Brewberry's (or "blue"berry's at our house), T-ball, soccer, gymnastics, parks such as Mattocks and Highland, the Highland pool, Wabun wading pool, etc, etc, etc. (do I really need to go on?). Oh how running into a friend instills community! I love arriving at the playground, scanning the crowd, and pointing out friends for Buggy so she can greet them. I love knowing that no matter where we go, we're bound to run into somebody. Well, I mostly love it. I do not love it when I need to run in to the grocery store to return our RedBox movie when I'm unshowered/disheveled/generally stinky. I will DEFINITELY run into somebody I know. Gross.

This is just one slice of my community. Tell me about your neighborhood and why you love it! (or how you wish it were different...) This is a multi-part series, so keep coming back for more! Coming up: giving to your community, neighbors, community and your kids, creating a community, and possibly more!

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