As human beings, we exist within communities. Be that family, peers, friends, school or workplace, cultural affinities, political leanings, social connections, or whatever other groupings we may feel a part of. These relationships seem to shape us, impart meaning, offer belonging, and give us our understanding of and engagement with life (see Notes One).
It’s a beautiful thing really: these connections that draw out different aspects of us and give them a home; the ways we reach out to others and form these bonds, often creating something unique and new; how all of that changes the face of the world surrounding us, weaving threads of interest and activity around our daily lives.
How conscious we are of that, how deliberately and intentionally we act within our communities is an interesting question for our times; especially when it comes to local community, to our immediate geographical surroundings (Notes Two).
Those posts – and others within the theme of Community – looked at how that’s changed: how business frequently seems to be stripping away trust and natural cooperation; the loss of local relationships and cultural life; ways what was once meaningful and apparent is often now abstract and remote.
Without a doubt, modern life’s dramatically different from what went before. Naturally evolving, organic communities built around necessity or industry seemingly having given way to something quite different. Technology, modern economics, and various other social shifts have changed the ground we walk on and how we share it with one another.
That said we’re still humans with similar material, social, mental and emotional requirements. We still look for meaning, identity, security, involvement, friendship, and self-esteem. We generally want to belong, and we also need to survive and live relatively harmoniously with others and within our environment.
In that light, surely local community should still be this vital, practical, engaging reality? Rather than a dry, formulaic, soulless place peopled with legacies, automatons, fragmented solutions, and potential risks.
Why we’re struggling on this level, why older systems are fading or failing and the solutions stepping in to replace them seem to not quite be gaining traction, is interesting. Maybe it’s because we’re often presented with replacements that take the form of a business, or because technology’s been fundamentally changing how we relate as well as drawing us away from our immediate surroundings (Note Three).
It just seems quite essential in many, many ways that we exist in real relationship to other people and the world around us. Not simply tuning others out or opting for the convenience and economy of large companies and brands, but looking at how we can purposefully sustain local initiatives through the choices we make and the activities we participate in.
Modern life offers this global sense of belonging and identity, but in a way it’s an illusion of sorts. The world around us is very real though, and it seems that local community offers a valuable opportunity to really engage with that and create something meaningful and constructive that works for everyone.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Learning to be human
Note 1: Mirrors we offer one another
Note 2: Reviving local community
Note 2: “New Renaissance”
Note 2: “The Spirit of Community”
Note 2: People, rules & social cohesion
Note 3: Using internet to construct community
Posts within the theme of Economy & Values build on this, with ideas around money and the things we do.