“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” ~ Cesar Chavez
As sociable creatures, in this consumerist greed-driven world where people live in boxes picket-fenced up with high walls and no eye contact, our sense of community has very much fallen by the wayside. In comparison to how it was for our grandparents say, fifty years ago, as the pace of life reaches ridiculous heights and people are waking up in the morning and asking themselves – really… what IS the point of all this, we find ourselves taking a step back, walking a little slower and attempting to bring a sense of community back into our lives.
Go To Church
No wait, keep reading – for those of you anti Christians and Catholics out there I’ll say right away that this is just an example. I’m not pumping a specific religion or trying to convert anyone, but I’ve found, especially since starting a family, that what organized religion offers and did offer our grandparents, was exactly what many city-goers and the new generation are really yearning for… a sense of community.
The church or group from any other faith, though sometimes pushy and likely to trigger all sorts of cringe worthy memories from our childhoods if we were brought up in such an environment, does do an amazing job at pulling together the threads that have been sewn in a community but never quite finished off. Summer fayres, pantomimes, village fetes, mother and toddler schemes, the list goes on.
Not only does the church bring people together geographically but, even if you don’t have full and devoted faith they are always welcome to new faces and most are genuinely eager to help. For those of us who feel depressed, lonely and isolated sometimes, just attending on event a week can really make a transformation and show us that there are people out there who really care, even if those we feel should show more of an interest, don’t.
Part of the problem with society at present seems to be that people are unable to admit it and seek out help when they need it. It’s probably the first time since the dark ages that people have become so separate, something that is incredibly unnatural and unable to sustain for much longer. It’s that simple, we need each other. So, if you are able to find a local church or tap into some of the events they are involved in, then get yourself down there.
Go On Retreats
Perhaps the most expensive of the three, retreats can be a huge opportunity to work alongside those on your level and many include mornings of yoga and meditation to really get your communal spirits up.
Praying or working together especially seems to be a great way to bond and clean ourselves up at the same time, like the Amish communities we can get back to the basics of being interdependent and doing things for each other.
It may be hardwork at times, but if everything in nature serves something else then so should we. It is biodiversity and humans at their best. It is karma yoga and attracting the sort of treatments from fellow human beings that you deserve. They also happen to be great fun and can give you ideas for your own community.
If you can’t afford these sorts of retreats, check out any meditation centre such as Vipassana or Buddhist centres and you should find ones that operate on donations so you pay what you can afford. Failing that and if you really want to get stuck in then check out WWOOF and workaway.org for voluntary programmes that will provide full bed and board in exchange for four to five hours of easy but most likely quite physical work.
Set Up Your Own Community
Huge task I know, but if this is your long-term goal then get started! A lot of people who’ve done it or built their own homes offer work experience or courses. Then there’s the huge amount of information in the Internet as well as facebook groups on going off grid.
Why not start small and work your way up? Enroll in one of those courses or invest in a book on the subject then get cracking; forage, make your own shampoo and deodorant, start collecting rainwater and growing your own veg. Where the community aspect of all this comes in is that getting stuck in no matter how small scale it is at first will attract the right sort of people – your ‘tribe’ – and lead to bigger plans of building and running it together.
How would you organize your day? With morning meditation and a spiritual approach? Or with more emphasis on sustainability with self sufficiency and communal eating? Go on workaway and get your own volunteers to make your dream come true. If you have some savings this will be especially viable, but just building an allotment or a small cabin you stay in at weekend will be enough to get started with.
Start a gardening/Yoga appreciation/chanting/same sex healing/singing or counseling group and go from there. A lot of these things cost an arm and a leg to attend and are run by experts in their field, why not lower the barriers and just go for it, admitting you’re tracing baby steps and get others involved in the leadership to ensure it happens. You’d be surprised how far a little flyer in your local greengrocer’s shop window will go if you honestly state your desires and see if there’s anyone else interested. All you can do is try it and see what happens.
Any more ideas for ways to bring a sense of community into your life? Please comment below.