Over lunch today I had one of the local commercial radio stations on in the background. At one point they were promoting a Volunteer Expo happening at the weekend. The radio announcer summed it up as “It’s really all about social connection”. And she was right.
My approach to Community Development or Community Building is based on some very simple principles. One of the primary principles is that building a coomunity or creating a great place to be is all about the social connections we make. It is really that simple.
The problem is that most of us seem to have forgotten how to make these connections. We leave early and communte to work. at work we socialise with those around us. After work we drive home. Once home on goes the television and we remain indoors only connecting with the immediate household. We might go to a social event during the week or weekend but many of us don’t even know our neighbours.
We’ve lost those places where we used to bump into others such as corner stores. Most of these are gone. The majority of us probably do our weekly shopping at a supermarket some kilometres away from home.
In many places membership of community organisations is in decline with the exception of retirees who continue to volunteer. Most of us have fewer people over for dinner, BBQs and drinks than in previous generations.
If you go for a walk or arun most people don’t greet you. It can really surprise some when you do greet them.
I wonder if we’ve lost the art and ability to connect, except through social media.
But if we want to build a good place to live, a good community we need to connect with others and build relationships. The hard part is that in making ourselves open to others we make ourselves vulnerable to others. But without this vulnerability we don’t grow and the community doesn’t grow.
Good community is simple, it’s not sophisticated or rocket science but it is about making connection with others. I believe that deep down this is what we crave. let’s connect with others and build strong community.
As the local DJ said “It’s really all bout social connection”.