We often talk about Beeston Rylands being a wonderful community to live in, and in this edition, I’ve been trying to unpick what we mean when we talk about community, and share my thoughts on how I think it can shape our lives.
According to the Collins online dictionary community can mean:
- SINGULAR NOUN[with singular or plural verb]
The community is all the people who live in a particular area or place.
- COUNTABLE NOUN[with singular or plural verb]
A particular community is a group of people who are similar in some way.
- UNCOUNTABLE NOUN
Community is friendship between different people or groups, and a sense of having something in common.
Humans have evolved to thrive best within a community, like a tribe protecting each other, however through the changing stages of our lives our emphasis and dependance on ‘community’ alters.
When you grow up in an area, you place particular importance on friendships and belonging within the community and your experience or appreciation can be quite different to that of a so called ‘newcomer’.
The role community plays when you mature, reach adulthood and have children of your own can be quite significant. The community that meets outside the school gates can be very influential in positive and negative ways. Then there’s the community groups that are provided for our elder residents such as the Friday Club that allow old friendships to be rekindled years down the line.
Over the last few years, months and weeks, it’s become apparent to me that our community can often play a significant part in how we recover from personal trauma and loss. Loss is part of being human, whether it’s loss of a family member or friend. Or whether it’s a loss of status, health, relationship or material thing that’s important to you.
Community can include the people (some you know well, others might be neighbors or acquaintances) who rally round to help you pick up the pieces, act as a safety net and feel like a warm hug when you most need it.
Unfortunately, community can also be the thing happening around you seemingly beyond your reach that makes you feel separate, excluded and alone. Sometimes it can seem like a club you’re not part of.
Like the social problems online communities can create, real life communities can have similar issues; bullying, exclusion, misunderstandings and hurt. Sometimes it’s important to reassess the role community plays in your life and how important it is.
We do well to remember that community can mean different things at different times and that its role in our life doesn’t stand still. Who could have imagined the role community played in our lives when Covid 19 struck, but also how soon we all got back to living our individual lives once the pandemic was over.
Even the seasons affect our sense of community. In the summer many of us see lots of our neighbors, in the winter it can be weeks/ months between chats.
It’s worth remembering particularly during Winter and the festive season that we have the choice how to engage with our community, how much effort we put into it, and how much we rely on it. To some extent we can decide what place it occupies in our life.
We can also look out for those that might seem separated and outside of your community. Sparing five minutes of your time for a chat can mean so much to someone who is feeling isolated.
Equally don’t be too harsh on those that don’t seem to have time, as we might not appreciate how extremely busy, they are or what problems they are having problems of their own.
So, let’s make an extra effort over this winter and festive period to not take our community for granted and make sure we look after it and those within it.
Rylands Community Activist