When I think of community as of late the ecovillage I’ve been helping to build in the Pittsburgh area for over the last year and some months (tho it’s been about 20+ years in the making!) is one of the first of many communities I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of.
And since it is at the forefront of my mind and consuming a fairly big portion of my time, I’m going to elaborate on it for this entry because the kinds of communities we create are just as important, if not more so, than the ones we can just happen to find ourselves in.
Growing up, I experienced a rather disjointed community of family and random caregivers and few friends….but as I grew into my adolescence there were a few people that entered my life who really helped to shape my understanding of what it means to really live in a space and time with others, regardless of whether we truly identify with that particular setting or not. The first person was a junior high schoolmate that came to the town I was living in at the time with her family from Japan for her fathers work. I hadn’t met anyone from any other countries and her culture was quite different from the one I grew up in (southern twice removed), but I was intrigued about what her life was like and we quickly became close friends for the next few years until she went back to her homeland.
While her family was here I never saw any other people in their home or ever heard about any friends that her parents or older brother had made, but this didn’t seem to have any ostensible affect on them (tho I know now why) and I pondered this for a while after they had left until it occurred to me that they clearly had other friends and an entire community they were a part of, it was just on the other side of the world!
Which brings me to the other person that I become friends with in high school who was from the town I lived in and had many family and friends throughout the area but who was a bit of an outcast due to her wilder nature and she too aroused a curiosity in me about close knit family and the ripple effect that is cast when one doesn’t always behave the way they’re expected to. This friend has never left the town I spent my formative years in, and it’s not far from Pittsburgh so I do on occasion get to spend time with my now decades old souls sister….but I’m still working on getting over to Japan so I can visit my junior high schoolmate since we’ve kept in touch as well.
To be able to be both a newcomer somewhere as well as a native, more or less, affords one a view of how we cozy in (or not) with wherever we end up, especially if we aren’t for whatever reason able to choose our next landing spot. But I have been choosing my landing spots for the last 28 years and while the sense of community I thought I might experience was not as tight as it may have been had I just stayed in the first neighborhood I moved to in 1994 (Oakland!), I have become a part of more communities than I can count on both hands at this point….and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So what’s your community or communities like? How do you love on them? Take some time now to consider what your community gives you and what you may have to give them in the form of some love that you may have gotten a bit distracted from giving because of other duties in your life.