I know this is the second question I’ve posted this week, but it’s one I’ve been pondering lately.
Graham and I live in a tiny village. But that village is part of a county split between a busy, suburban east and a quiet, rural west. And that county is part of a state full of large metropolitan areas and even larger swaths of coastline, mountains, and small country towns.
By way of example, this is Virginia:
This is also Virginia:
And so is this:
In our village, we stay involved in civic and volunteer organizations, we support the businesses and the small school operating here, and we try to help our neighbors when they need it. We feel safe, and very happy. And in the next town over, we’ve got a whole second community – we play trivia every Thursday, we’re regulars at several businesses, and it’s pretty rare to walk down the sidewalk on any given day and not see someone we know. We feel connected here – to the people around us, to our local government, to the history that we’re becoming part of – and when we think about what community means to us, that’s it: connection.
Or perhaps it’s something a little deeper than that.
It’s feeling rooted, I think.
And I never thought I’d feel that way after I left my childhood home in southwest Virginia. I think many people worry about that, too, and I feel really lucky that I’ve found this place.
So, that’s community for me, then: people, place, connection, and roots. But I know that my world isn’t the world, and there are all kinds of ways to be part of a community.
Now, backing up.
I’ve been pondering all this of lately because I’ve been kicking around a new project idea, something that would explore where I came from, through the lens of where I am now, and with the wisdom and knowledge that I’ve gained as I’ve grown up (and continue to grow up…it’s a process, y’all). I’m not sure if I’m ready to write it at all, but I know that in order to write it well, I need more perspectives than just mine. I need to understand what people think of when they think of community. In order to really tell the story that I want to tell in a way that resonates, I think I need to know more about the people who will read it, where they come from and how they feel about community, and what their experiences have been in whatever places they’ve chosen to call home.
And so I put it to you, my wonderful readers, from so many different places, and with so many different passions and ideas:
What does community mean to you?