How to build a community

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  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would like to join some kind of local gardening group, but the only one I've found so far seems excessively political. They felt the need to post all sorts of political signs around their community garden, which put me off and will probably keep me from joining them. It's a shame.

    TGN has the right idea of keeping most non-food-production topics (especially politics!) out of the forums so that we can all connect based on our shared interest in gardening and farming, without being divided by our other differences. There are too few places today where that is possible.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy If you can find a small garden club they seem to stay grounded more. We have about 10 around here and the best ones are the ones that are small and meet in back yards

    I have been invited to join the bigger ones here but they are to political for me. I will go give talks or share seeds or plants with them but that is all

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    We moved from Erie, Pa. to this little town in Alabama. Even when we went to the church two miles away, I never felt accepted. People were friendly, but once I left the church building, I felt so alone. I did join the historical society and have a few "friends" there, even a few that I can count on for help. We drive 30 miles to church in a much bigger city, where we have lots of friends. People here are willing to help others, which is good. It has been a slow process of fitting in.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have moved many, many times over the course of my life. I've pretty well figured out how to get settled in a new community.

    Making an effort to get out there and make friends is key. You can' t just wait for it to happen naturally, or it will take many years. Churches are one of the best places to connect with others, but we've had to "church shop" in every new community. Some churches would be made up of members who think too differently from us, while others would appear to be an excellent fit until we actually tried to talk to people there.

    I remember in one new state I attend a service and thought this would be a wonderful place for us, but when I went downstairs to the coffee hour meet-and-greet, I was unable to get anyone to talk to me. They would talk to their own friends, but when I approached they would dash away. I made a real effort and finally gave up.

    In another new state, my husband and I attend a church very near our home, and of a denomination we thought would be a good fit. Again, the service went well, but we were unable to get anyone to talk to us after the service. This kind of "clique", insider/outsider, thing is sadly common in many churches, as well as clubs and other groups.

    On the other hand, at the church we attend now, when I introduced myself to one of the members, he grabbed my hand and took me all around the room, introducing me to new people left and right.

    It's also a good idea to join a club or two. Gardening is always good, but if you have other hobbies, look for clubs that support those activities too. Hiking, sewing, astronomy, radio, square-dancing...anything that lets you meet other people is good.

    I have found that if I make enough effort, I can build up a circle of friends in about one year after moving to a new place.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I used to live out of a suitcase when I had my one job. I would buy a new plant for every town I moved to, lol. A lot of what you did was what I did when I moved.

    I do introduce myself to any new people who move into this neighborhood but its a hard sell here. But I have a new plan of attack this spring and summer. We will se how it works

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Givens "I do introduce myself to any new people who move into this neighborhood but it's a hard sell here."

    What do you consider your neighborhood?

    Going back to that second church incident I described above, where no one would talk to my husband or me, we lived in that town for about 2 years and never really made friends with anyone there. But it didn't matter, because we traveled one town over, a few minutes drive, and were welcomed there. We joined a church (of the same deonomination that had ignored us in our own town!) and were welcomed, with my husband ending up in the choir and me ending up as a deacon.

    I also joined a hobby club in that same town and was welcomed there and became very active.

    You won't always be able to connect with your immediate neighbors, but you usually don't have to go very far to find others with whom you have affinity, unless you are in a super-rural area with only a few people per square mile. Even lightly-populated Vermont has far more than that.

    I have many friends here in Vermont, but few within walking distance. This is a low-density area, so people congregate across a big chunk of the state. One club to which I belong draws people from a radius of at least 20 miles. Our church has members from some of the surrounding towns as well as our own.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2021

    @VermontCathy This neighborhood, which is a very busy road that connects two states is about 3 miles long. I also include the road the church is one so that adds another mile with more people. Its about 25 houses in total. At first I thought it was me, but it happens to anyone new that moves here. We have had this land in the family for 60 plus years and three generations.

    The problem here is if you have not lived in the house for 4 or 6 generations you will not be accepted. We went to the church too and they were very nice but you never got past where they talk to you at church but not outside the building. It's just a cold neighborhood. There is one more neighborhood like that about 6 miles away but it's actually worse. The road also affects the way people treat others. it makes them leary of people and introverted. (I live on a dangerous road. They widened it and resurfaced it so wrecks have reduced but speed on this road is awful)

    But we do have a few new neighbors and you can talk to them and get to know them. As people move on or pass away its getting easier. The neighbors I do talk to are the new ones and they have been wonderful. Unfortunately they move on rather rapidly. The neighbor up the road, 1/4 mile away is very nice but his land is long and he actually lives on another road about two miles away. But when he is on the lower property we talk and he is someone I can call on if needed. I help him in his garden which is on the lower property.

    So my goal is to get to know the newer neighbors better and have a get together this summer and invite everyone in a1 1/2 mile radius both ways. (new York border is 1 1/2 mile away) If I do this long enough the barriers will come down. I am also dropping off veggie baskets and will have a free veggie table by the road this year. I may put up a book exchange and seed exchange box by the road.

    We have 1/3 mile creek frontage that I would share with neighbors and have offered it to them but only one new neighbor took me up on it.

    I also plan to have a plant swap as most neighbors have nice flower gardens. Invitations will be going out for that.

    My old road I grew up one is 4 miles away I still am good friends with all of them. It's just a different atmosphere here than on the road I grew up on where you were all close friends, almost family.

    But as times change we need to get that helping hands attitude again in all areas.

    As far as knowing people in different towns I am well known here. Mainly as the lady who can answer any garden question and has cool plants. I belong to the large gardening club in a town 10 miles away. My mother is well known for her beautiful art work.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,111 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We live in a very small rural tourist village. Some folks are super nice, others treat you like your last weeks trash, and others just don't care unless they need something from you. I have learned the closer we are to the main part of our village, the more snobbish many folks are. On the outskirts of the village folks tend to be a bit more friendly.

    There are a few folks we can count on if anything is needed and they know we would do whatever we could to help them as well. We have learned after 13 years here, not to worry about it. We are friendly with those that are friendly to us. Though we have drawn back from some that expected a lot from you but were rarely willing to give anything back unless it somehow benefited them more. We have learned to be mainly self sufficient and rarely rely on others for help other than occasional small things. Though many know we would help them in whatever way we could. Would love more community but over the years since we moved here our community has changed a lot. As younger folks move in or grow up and get more into the community it has become much less accepting and much more clique oriented. If you are notof the same opinions, or original families, etc. you are not accepted.

    We do what we can, and have learned to accept than many will never accept us no matter what we have tried.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant "This neighborhood, which is a very busy road that connects two states is about 3 miles long. I also include the road the church is one so that adds another mile with more people. Its about 25 houses in total."

    If you view your community as a small area 3 miles long that only includes 25 houses, I'm not at all surprised that you haven't found enough people willing to form a friendly neighborhood. If I thought of my community as the 25 houses closest to me, I would only have four households in my circle of friends.

    But I see my "community" as having something like a 20 mile radius, which is a very different story.

    Considering that my church is 5 miles away, the nearest grocery store is 5 miles away, and many of the services we use are a 20 minute drive away. expecting too much from the few people immediately surrounding us would be unrealistic.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Where we live we have immediate community (mindset of the area where you go when there is a problem or to get help) and community. When we moved here 30 years ago, it was a total switch from where we grew up, where every door was open 24/7. When we moved in we went and introduced ourselves to eveyone in this area. (only 4 miles from where I grew up so we knew most people) They have always been polite, except one neighbor, but never friendly. Two two closest neighbors were friendly and we helped each other out but they passed away or moved out. I miss them so.

    The old road we grew up on we still communicate and occasionally have picnics. They are some of my best friends. So yes, we do have community but late at night if there is an issue it would be nice to be able to be able to get help from someone close by. One time the electric lines fell in front of my house and I had no phone and my car was trapped behind live wires so i could not drive any where. I was running up the road to try and get help and no one would answer their doors. I finally flagged someone down on the road and had them call 911. With live wires bouncing all over my yard I was afraid the house would catch fire.

    Its just a different neighborhood and you have to accept that. But I will try to get a better relationship with them. It not just me, anyone who moves in has the same issue. But new people are beginning to outweigh the older families and there is change.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant Okay, that's an extreme situation you were in when the electric lines came down. I'm sorry to hear that no one would help you.

    But for better or for worse, rural/small town America has become completely car-centric. That doesn't just mean that we can shop farther away. It means that we tend to choose our friends based on those with whom we have the most in common, or feel the strongest friendship. We don't pay much attention to distance, because it's (usually) so easy to drive many miles.

    Sociologists describe this as the strengthening of strong social ties at the expense of weak social ties. 200 years ago, travel was so difficult that people built the best community they could from people within walking or horse-riding distance. Today, we spend more time writing on the Internet to people with whom we have interests in common than we do talking to our immediate neighbors. :-) Or we drive 20 miles to talk to our closest friends instead of chatting with people in the same block.

    We've paid a price for this, but we've also gained benefits. When I was a kid, I was interested in amateur astronomy and ham radio, but there was no one in our rural community who did these niche activites. I read library books and learned a lot from them, but I had no community at all to share or learn from. I was able to do a bit of self-taught astronomy from the back yard, but couldn't do radio at all until I graduated from college and moved away. (Even where I live today, it is difficult for local clubs to exist that do these niche activities, because they have to draw people from many miles away to have a minimum number of members.)

    Today, I would have been able to get on the Internet and discuss these activities no matter where I lived. I would not have been so isolated as a kid. I could have found my intellectual community.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,517 admin

    This is an important subject. I just got this "free mini course" on how to build community in my inbox.

    Full disclosure, the family run organization is Christian based and it says so in its footer. They want to teach teens important, basic skills.

    The first course I signed up for (not for me, lol) was how to decide future career paths or alternatives, etc. That's always a big subject that kids get bombarded with and the answer is usually, "I don't know", because they often honestly have no idea.

    I only just signed up for this one so I don't know full content. What I can see from the summaries does look good though.

    It might be worth taking a look at the building community course. After all, who offers this advice through a course anyway?


  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I signed up. Thanks