Interestingly, when I took this photo, I smiled at the woman who stopped so I could take the shot, and we talked for a moment about what an interesting piece of…art? Social engineering? Media hype? Whatever. it is, we talked about it.

I’ve been seeing this at the bus stop for about a week, now, and it’s been poking my brain about the concept of community. It’s a hard to define concept. There are a lot of issues about people and space in those posters, and I think those questions are important. But here’s what made me think:

‘Community’ used to mean the physicality of being together, but no longer does it denote sharing actual space. Online communities are very real and, I think, beneficial.

Oh, you see articles about how the internet isolates us, and how it keeps us from interacting with the people around us, but I don’t see that. For me, anyhow. Without email/blogs/Facebook, I would have no idea what my closest, oldest friends were doing. Time together is nice, but less and less possible. Phone calls are good, but work/children/stuff makes it hard to find times to chat. When I do get together with friends I’ve known for longer than it takes to have a child reach adulthood, it is precious to me, but having the internet is a good substitute.

Then there are the communities that are strictly online. Just because I have never physically met many of my photo-a-day Flickr contacts does not make them, or me, any less a part of our community. I know about Ulli’s soft spot for stray animals in Spain, and Beff’s new nail polish. I know Raynah got a gorgeous haircut in Birmingham. I cherish knowing those things.

Wikipedia tells me that ‘community’ is derived from the Latin: ‘communitas (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”)’

The gift that brings us together? Yes. I think so.

6 Comments to “Community.”

  1. By Beth, April 9, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    I remember the street I grew up on. Mr. & Mrs. Druse, Mr. & Mrs. Noble, Mr. & Mrs. Georges. They had kids I played with. My mom was at home all day and didn’t drive. If she socialized during the day, this was her community. They had friends outside the neighbourhood that they visited on weekends but these were the everyday community.
    I don’t know that this happens anymore. I wonder. I sure don’t socialize with the people in the building where I live. I know a couple to smile and say hi to at the mailbox, but that’s all. Even when I had small children at home, I was out working most of the time.
    But I have always had community somewhere, and conversation has always been important. (first pink note). Conversation will never go out of style, even if the form changes.

  2. By Liz, April 10, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Where I grew up, all the kids were in and out of each other’s houses all up and down the block. My mom relied on coffee with the neighbours to keep her sane.

    Now, because we are three families in one house, we know and socialize with the people in our building, but that is partly because they (and we) think that is a good idea, and we like each other just fine.

    I;m friendly with several of the neighbours on the street, but never really social.

  3. By Arwen, April 10, 2010 @ 8:34 pm

    Man, I am still f*cked over losing my community. It does still happen, but only with intention.

    I was talking with Gen about being an at home caregiver: we agreed there’s a mental health reason for community and kaffeeklatch. I don’t think internet replaces it. However, I think if you’re going to work, there’s community there. It doesn’t have to be deep, just familiar and with common goals. Communities in neighbourhoods were created and maintained, I think, by those at-home.

  4. By Liz, April 10, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    Arwen, you’re right. The people who see each other on a day-to-day basis in neighbourhoods are the ones who build the community. Work also makes community. I, for example, can suggest to my boss that he replace me with a lemur, and he, kindly, laughs and does not.

  5. By clara, April 12, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    I really..bristle at the inference of those post-its. (especially as they are ads for the YMCA) It smacks of the doom-sayers who insist on “I miss Back When” and “kids today don’t / do” even though things are as they ever were in so many respects, it is just the frame that changes. Like you & above commenters said, community is where you find it, where you make it, what sustains you.

    I was just watching my kids today play with this girl who is 8 years old and lives in one of the other townhouses in our complex. She is always running around hanging out with the kids in the complex. She helped my kids build a “snail farm” and collect snails for it. Then they washed the snails in a bucket and then they took a toy boat and put it in the snail farm in case the snails wanted to go for a cruise. And I was sitting there, remembering playing with the neighbours when I was a kid. Putting on circuses in the back yard, mudpies.

    I refuse to believe the hype. Kids today are just the same as kids ever were.

  6. By Liz, April 12, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

    Clara, I kind of got that vibe from it as well. I don’t think it is realistic to expect that the children born of our generation have the same circumstances we do, in a lot of cases. However, I do not think that children are going to change that much from generation to generation.

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