So.. i talked about the importance of shopping local a few weeks ago. Which is something that is important to me. Aside from shopping though, our little community is important to me. We aren't moving. The grass isn't going to be greener anywhere else. We embrace it. The pros, the cons.. There is no use in complaining about what we can't get, or can't do. Turn that around.. we are blessed in so many ways with what is available to us. I always tell my kids.. "It could always be worse. We have clean water, a roof over are heads, and plenty of food!" When is the last time that you really thought about that? I mean.. really thought about how blessed we are to be able to turn a faucet on and get clean water! How can you not be happy about that! So, no.. we don't have big box stores where you can get everything you need in one shot, but we do have a great support system of friendly people who all want to see this little town succeed.
For me there was a support system.
A few years ago about 12 families in our town got together to create what we called "Community Supportive Network" It was a diverse group of people who all wanted to help support others in the group and also learn some new things from different people. We had by weekly meetings (held at someones house) and monthly events. It was so great to be engaged in community with others. We made soap, created a weekly raw milk pick-up from a local dairy, had potlucks, made apple cider, held herbal workshops in medicine making and self care products. We canned food together. We made bagels together. It was great in so many ways. There were people available to help. People just a phone call away when a family had trees drop in their driveway. The guys were there to clean it up. It was the greatest support system. It was right for everyone at that point in their lives.
Since then though the group has not been as active. We have all remained friends. A few still get milk weekly, but at some point everyone's lives have gone a different direction. Which is not bad. Everyone needs to grow and change. Josh and I have been feeling that void though. The void of avid community building. We at times get pretty consumed with the restaurant and some days feel like they should have more hours. We still get home though and think.. how can we be living more in community. I feel like we can not be the only ones feeling this way. In fact I know we aren't.
I'm talking about community where you can ask a favor of your neighbor and they expect nothing in return, where there are so many people to help with a project that there are idle hands. It is achievable. The people are here. There are so many groups that anyone could get involved with. But that is what its going to take Involvement! People stepping outside of their comfort zones. People putting in the extra time and going to extra mile. I know that sounds exhausting, but there are already a few doing it. Trying their hardest to make this community great.
So then where do we start? How do we build community? Baby steps..
Get to know your neighbors. I mean really get to know them. It's a small town so I know we all say... oh yeah, I know that person. But do you really? Invite them over, talk to them, learn about their lives. Help them out if they need it.
Join a local club or group. Get involved in something new. Learn new things. Meet new people. Make new friends.
Get involved with the kids in the community. Invest your time with them. Coach a sport, volunteer at the school, help organize an event. The kids will appreciate it. The kids need it. They need to see adults working hard to make our community succeed. They need to learn to do acts of service and be involved. I feel like this could be one of the most important parts of community building. Kids learn by seeing, not by listening. Lead by example.
Start something. Put yourself out there. I know that isn't for everyone. Which is perfectly fine. But if you have an idea, let people know. See if there is interest. Everything has to start somewhere. Start small.
Go to local meetings and see what's happening around town. I'll be honest.There are a lot of things that I miss. I'll use the conservation district as an example. Until I started going to some of their events, I had no idea how much they do for the community. (Which is a LOT) That's just one organization. Those are just a few examples. There are numerous ways to live in community.
We have had 2 Simply Nourished Workshop series now. I know those people were probably feeling just as uncomfortable as they were excited about joining something new. I was nervous, that's for sure. Looking back though, that's the sense of community I feel like I've been missing. That comfort of seeing the same people every week. Standing back and listening to the buzz of excited conversation. Getting to know them. Laughing, being real, learning about their lives. Creating a connection. We are friends. They all signed up, not knowing what to expect.. I'm hoping they've all taken something wonderful away from it.
So, as your reading this, I know it sounds like a lot. I know. I get it. We are all busy. We all have lives, Many of us are already doing things and are involved in groups or organizations. I guess I'm just trying to say, don't be afraid. Try something new. It might be the best thing you've done in awhile!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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