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How important is it to you to be a member of the community?


Anne in CA
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By that, I mean, do you really care about belonging in the community? When we lived in the Portland Metro Area we were important members of a church community in an important church. That meant, to me, that we were contributing to the whole community with lots of service that the church did. When I went places people who I had never met knew who I was. People did nice things for my children (and sometimes mean ones too) because of our church even if they didn't go there. My youngest was in church dramas that were seen by thousands of people and was a well known child actress. So...

 

We moved to the mountains, which was a fantasy both dh and I had. We are community members because our restaurant helps the whole community be cohesive. I like this community. I like these people. This restaurant only makes money 5 months out of the year. We tried other things, having another restaurant, in a town an hour away, selling extra baked goods from the bakery to boost sales, but they really didn't work. We probably should sell and move. That is the textbook right thing to do or we won't retire. 

 

But I don't want to leave these people. I don't want to start over and I know DH feels the same way. We belong here after four years. I don't have the energy to just move somewhere and meet everyone and start over. I don't. I also don't want to move somewhere and not belong to the community. There are no jobs here we are cut out for, it is an agricultural/ logging community. 

 

Do you need to belong to a community to feel safe? Or could you just move somewhere, and live in a solitary way??? 

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I do have a strong need to "belong", to feel like a part of the community. To achieve that, we've always volunteered in various things and worked to make each community we've lived in "our own". We host socials in our neighborhoods and try to attend when others host as well.

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My community is my extended family. My parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws. The majority of them live within a 20 minute drive. I see them all weekly. I could never leave this area because I have zero interest in my community being anything other than my family. If I had to move for some reason then I wouldn't seek out a community. I like going at things alone if it doesn't have to do with family

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It's not.

 

Don't ever join the military. You move every 2-3 years. Yes there is a military 'community' and some places you make life long soul sister friends. Other places you spend time hanging with people, and while you are good friends, you may only be friends because you are both together, but neither has found 'their people' in this place. Once you or they leave you may drop down to christmas card level.

 

Often it is friends/community of the moment. You partake in what is offered for that area and enjoy it while you are there. Then you move on and do it again at the next place.

 

I guess I don't know what you mean by 'feel safe'.

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No, I wouldn't be happy not in a community.  Since I moved frequently until almost six years ago, I changed communities frequently too.  It wasn't that I was known in the community- I usually wasn't known by very many people just people at church and homeschooling people and some military people, etc.  But I would join the local library and go regularly, become a regular at stores, have restaurants where I went, etc. I would feel connected to the area and go to local events and enjoy local open spaces or parks.  It would normally take me about six months to feel at home and by then I would have made some patterns to my life.  

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Community is important to me. My town is about 12,000 people. I never go anywhere without seeing people I know. I'm involved with the church and some other activities. I think if I wanted to meet any person who lives in town, it would take two degrees of connection at most. I know most of the people who write in to the newspaper. I love it.

 

I would not be unwilling to live in a big city where I wasn't a real contributor to the overall community, as long as I had my own sub-community, like my church or neighborhood.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I need roots. My paternal family has been in this county for a couple of hundred years, maybe more. We don't belong to a church and don't even have a very wide net of friends, but I very much feel like I belong here and that feeling is important to me. I'm sure it could be built over time in a new location, but I have no desire to do that.

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Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I do not need to belong to a community to feel safe but I have enjoyed that sense at certain times in my life. Right now, I'm solitary and have been for a long time. Sometimes I miss belonging to a community but then I remember how it would infringe on my personal freedom and the responsibility it entails, I lose interest.

 

It sounds like you really love where you are and it feels like home to you. I hope that you can find a way to make it work.

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Its important. Our community has changed, and the current residents are msjority winner take all people. So, cliquing and starving out the unwanted is common. I am not interested. I miss the days when dc could walk to school or down to the ice cream stand without getting run over, and I could enjoy my backyard without the sounds of drunks and druggies.

Edited by Heigh Ho
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I need a form of community outside my family.  For me, that's not the neighborhood where I live.  After 10 years I still feel like a newcomer here.  But I have a community at church which is very important to me.  I like knowing that if my family needs help, there will be people ready to what is needed.  Of course that means I am prepared to help others out when they are in need. I love how people come together when a new baby is born, or someone is sick, to provide meals and other practical help.  I wouldn't want to live without that.  

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I like it, most of the time.

 

Objectivly, I think it's really important - I think, along with family, it's the most fundamental and important level of human common life, the building block of every level of government and every collective human endevour. 

 

As for the issue of your town - I would want to stay there, as well.  I guess my inclination would be to try and figure out what else I could possibly do to make a living.  I might be inclined to ask the members of the community what they think could work.  But - maybe you've already done that.

 

 

 

 

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I think if you are the personality type to be committed to others around you and able to invest the time and energy it takes to reach out to others, that trait will follow you wherever you go. The fact that you were close to people around you in 2 different environments makes me think it isn't the environment that played a role in being part of the community, but it is one of your personality strengths to be able to draw in closer relationships with those around you.

 

We lived in our current home over 10 years with barely speaking to our neighbors other than hi and bye and how's the weather. That was with me being outside quite a bit, seeing and cordially speaking to neighbors regularly. A young couple moved nearby and hung out outside a lot. They not only said hi and bye to everybody, but stopped and asked people about their lives and people would stay and chat with them. People didn't seem interested when I tried to reach out, maybe because I'm a bit socially awkward. Within a year, all the neighbors started getting to know each other more and more through hanging out outside with this couple and now we borrow flour from each other, give rides when there are car troubles, help move big furniture when needed, say more than hello when getting the mail at the same time, and have an occasional block party. This couple has a knack for getting close to those around them super quick, be it neighborhood, church, workplace, etc.... They were the same way where they lived before and it was a completely different living dynamic. It sounds like you would be the same way if you moved.

 

I love being part of the community, be it workplaces, church, neighborhood, or wherever. But I am an introvert by nature and *sometimes* I'd like to just do my daily responsibilities (currently as a homeschooling SAHM) and outside of that live in a bubble by myself without expectations or commitments to those around me. Plus I am not a people magnet so it takes a lot of energy on my part to keep involved without being socially stressed out to the max. Most of my extended family usually keep to themselves. They just go to work, home, watch TV, prepare the simplest of dinners and eat in front of the TV, and go to bed. Everyday. They do not have many community relationships, but they also don't have to deal with relational drama that sometimes occurs in small community settings like the stress that occurs when a small church is struggling for volunteers or money to stay functional or their HOA board needs to brainstorm how to address a neighborhood policy violation. But they also do not have people dropping meals at their doorstep when there is a health issue or a bunch of helping hands when they need moving help. I think being involved with community is overall beneficial to all involved.

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I can't tell. Homeschooling took everything out of me this year. It was ok, because that was all I did. I schooled the boys for 8 hours a day, spent a couple of hours each evening doing something to prepare for the next day and spent huge chunks of my weekend learning biology. If there were community responsibilities as well, I'd have just keeled over and died. It's been a blessing to have no community.

 

But in years past, when the kids were small, I needed to be part of something bigger than just caring for littles. .

 

Right now, the thought of anyone requiring anything from me makes me want to run screaming. But maybe in 6 years, when the youngest is done school, then I have a feeling I'll want to jump back in.

 

I used to volunteer a lot for church things. I'll probably do something like that again in 6 years.

 

So, I think community has its place, but sometimes it can be too draining. But I vascillate between extroverted and introverted whenever I take tests to see which I am. I'm heavily introverted right now, but at other times I am more extroverted. :)

 

I do make sure that I get together with friends every few weeks. I have two different groups of ladies I get together with(but one group I am going to have to drop, see other posts about that), and I have a few individual friends that don't belong to a group that I make sure to hang out with every couple of months.

 

But overall, I think I'm a bit lazy for community. I enjoy being sedentary on the couch reading books and watching tv. I'm not a person who likes to be out and about all the time. I like it best when I'm home for many days in a row.

Edited by Garga
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It's not.

 

Don't ever join the military. You move every 2-3 years. Yes there is a military 'community' and some places you make life long soul sister friends. Other places you spend time hanging with people, and while you are good friends, you may only be friends because you are both together, but neither has found 'their people' in this place. Once you or they leave you may drop down to christmas card level.

 

Often it is friends/community of the moment. You partake in what is offered for that area and enjoy it while you are there. Then you move on and do it again at the next place.

 

I guess I don't know what you mean by 'feel safe'.

 

The regimental system was really designed to create a community though, in that kind of setting. 

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I don't fancy myself "an important member of the community" but I am actively involved in my community to the extent I can be.

 

I think it's fairly important, provided the homefront is in order. My parents put community and church volunteer stuff before the home. By homefront in order I'm not talking messy houses being a problem, I'm talking everyone getting their basic needs taken care of and there being peace and refuge available for all household members. The best thing I every picked up from a marriage counselor was that charity starts at home. We were both (especially me, but also him) so focused on outside non-work stuff that there was nothing left over to invest time, care and attention to our home and each other. I was repeating the mistake of my parents. As such, we were all fried. Now home and family comes first.

 

Some of my community stuff is political and kid related. Now that I am on the PTA board for next year for the school my son is starting, I am guessing more of it will be school and education related.

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I enjoy community.  I live in a pretty big city, but I have that where I live.  I run into people I know almost every time I leave the house.  Neighborhood people, little league, Bible study (with a homeschool class), homeschool PE, book club, etc.....all of these people overlap.  I've also volunteered in the past, with some overlap with all of these people.  I love running into people I know.

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I wrote a very long response and decided it was too much personal info.

 

Yes, I need to be part of community, but communities change and grow and move on, etc......and you need to do what is best for your own family. 

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I long for community. We have no family here and we attend a church that is very close knit. After 3 years I don't feel like we are any closer part of this group than the day we joined. We do have community with dd's scout group. Love those people. But would I chose to stay just for them? No. And the reason is they wouldn't stay b/c of me. When we lived back east we had a great circle of community but reality is people move. For jobs, for family, for military. They do what they need for their family. I have to do what I need for mine.

 

DH is pretty reserved and only with the right people does he want to socialize. So while I long for community I don't think we will have it in our older age years. I expect to be remote and isolated with DH. Luckily I like him a lot ;-) But if I had a choice I would choose community. I just don't think it's realistic to pick community of jobs though....you have to work for money to live... so in your case, if you could figure out a way to live in that community, do it. But if not, you may just have to leave. Which would be sad. For us, moving away from a good circle of friends was hard, but life happens and a year later only a few were left in the area anyway...many moved away after we did. Life changes. I'm sorry you can't make that community work.

 

eta: I didn't want my words construed. While we are in a church that is a close group, we often feel like outsiders simply b/c there hasn't been a close connection. Awesome people but no best friends have come from the group. It's still community. And you can have smaller community with just a few families but it feel larger b/c of closer relationships.

Edited by tess in the burbs
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The regimental system was really designed to create a community though, in that kind of setting.

But it's often not. At least anymore. It may still be more so at lower enlisted ranks.

 

Higher ups, where there is often only one or two of your specialty are often set to the side of the larger groups, who welcone you in, but forget about you until wander past their atea and they remember to mention goings on.

 

Plus that no fraternizing thing is an issue. Especially when it you and all your support/ most people you deal with on a daily basis is enlisted.

 

Overseas living is more like that, but again, often once you move away that friendship is shelved until you cross paths again.

 

On base living stateside has some of that, but not much. And base living stateside is harder and harder to find.

 

Out in community/ neighborhoods you may be the only militarty on the street. Neighbors barely know the people who have lived there for years, why bother with someone who is only a few years to stay?

 

Now thisis often different when brought together by a common cause. You befriend people who have kids the same ages as yours, especially when little. But often what you have in common is location and kids.

 

So while I see it creating a community early on, it is a lot of drink the kool aid, all in the same boat. With age and specializing this breaks down.

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I am very introverted and therefore don't interact as much as I probably should.  But I do feel it is unhealthy (at least for me) to give in to my natural tendencies and stay solo too much.  Plus, with kids, I want to feel that people around would help us out if we were in an unexpected bind.  Seems I must at least smile and wave from time to time if I want people to care a little.  :)

 

When my kids were 3, I started taking my kids to church where they now go to school.  I wanted them to be full members of the church/school community, so they would feel comfortable and be treated like everyone else.  I also came to enjoy being part of that community.  I could see how it would mean a lot if I were getting older and the church community was praying for me, visiting me in the hospital etc.

 

But I don't know how to quantify "how" important community is to me.  I mean, compared to what?  I am not going to go out and build community, or take a local office, or heck, even take cookies to a new neighbor.  :P  But I will always help a neighbor in a tight spot.

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I don't need a physical, geographical community but I do need people. My community is family, extended family, and a group of friends (most of whom I met through homeschooling). I'm involved in things that happen in my city but I can't really say I'm part of the community here. It's not a big city but not a small town - about 45,000 people.  Very suburban, and while not a true bedroom community there are quite a few people who work out of town. The population hasn't grown much in almost 50 years - just under 15,000 more people live here now than in 1970 when my family moved here.

 

So I guess the answer is I make my own community, and that community is important to me. 

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I don't need a physical, geographical community but I do need people. My community is family, extended family, and a group of friends (most of whom I met through homeschooling). I'm involved in things that happen in my city but I can't really say I'm part of the community here. It's not a big city but not a small town - about 45,000 people.  Very suburban, and while not a true bedroom community there are quite a few people who work out of town. The population hasn't grown much in almost 50 years - just under 15,000 more people live here now than in 1970 when my family moved here.

 

So I guess the answer is I make my own community, and that community is important to me. 

 

Yes this.  I'm not saying I don't need people, but whether or not they are in my city is not important to me.

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Yes, but what it takes for me to get that sense is a much lower bar.

 

Going to church and having some people know my name and meeting some nice people and learning their names and some things about their lives, and then seeing them regularly -- this is enough.

 

I like a smaller church.

 

Anything on top of this is extra for me.

 

Without this I feel very aimless and disconnected. My family is not enough because often it is just my kids and my husband is traveling for work.

 

I need to feel like I have that connection.

 

Otherwise I feel very, very anonymous.

 

But I think after finding the right church it takes about two months.

 

I have moved a few times and this is what I think right now.

 

I do think it would be different if my kids were older, because I do have some ties through them, too.

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Chiming back in to say that "community" does not equal best friends or "like family" to me.  It is important to me to know the names of the people on my street. Not only is it friendly, but it adds to the general safety of the neighborhood here as we act as an unofficial block watch for each other.  I try to get to know people in those activities that we are involved in.  I don't know everyone but enough so that there is a sense of "we are doing this together".  Because of that, people will help each other out in small ways.  I am starting to get more involved in the larger community through our small city politics and community involvement.  When I join a new activity or group, I am immediately seeking ways that I can help out and be a part of the team.  To me, this is separate from finding personal friends, though I often find one or two of those too. 

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I don't want to speak for the OP, but I don't think they were just talking about a set of people or places they interact with.

 

In some places, the community has a really robust structure, and that's what makes it possible for people to develop these individal relationships and connections.  And it works the other way too, to an extent.   But when it exists, it allows a certain amount of moving in and out by individuals.

 

My dad lives in a place like this - it's a town of about 1000, plus some outlying rural residents.  Some older families but lots of newer people too.  I'm not sure what's made it work so well but one big thing is that it has enough people to accomplish things, but it isn't close enough to another big town that people just go there.  So, even though it is small, they have some infrastructure - schools, post-office, small hospital, grocery store.  But they also have all kinds of entertainment - there is a professional theatre group, but beyond that several town bands, a monthly movie night at the hall, lots of dances and teas, open mic nights, and so on.

 

A new person who moves into a town like that can find a place and their people to be close with.  But in many places, it's like that human infrastructure doesn't exist, and even if you like that sort of thing, it is very tricky just to get it up and rolling.  In my neighbourhood, a few residents have been trying to arrange to have a party this August, a pot luck and kids games sort of thing.  There are probably about 800 people in the area, but it's not that huge.  One big issue has been, how to communicate with everyone?  Aside from actually pushing something through every mail slot, there is no easy way or place to even communicate to the community.  In my dad's larger town, that would be significantly simpler.

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I do feel more settled if I am an active member of my community.  When dh was in the Air Force, we moved every 3-5 years.  We have lived in some beautiful places (coffee table book photography worthy) and some desolate places (crowded city, desolate desert).  But my fondest memories have nothing to do with the place.  They are wrapped up in the people we knew, and worshipped with, and worked with.  Community is so important.

 

That being said, it sounds like you are the kind of people who *create* community, no matter where you are.  If you must give up your mountain community, you will likely find or make one somewhere else.  

 

On the other hand, in today's changing global economy, people are creating income in creative ways, working from home with nothing but a computer (and maybe some storage space).  Perhaps you could make good use of your off months to start a new business?

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That tension is so difficult, especially for small business owners.

 

There was a fantastic yarn/knitting store in Sonora, CA that created wonderful community.  They had classes, and also drop in 'free knitting' times twice a week.  They supported local guilds.  They knew everyone.  They pulled tons of people together locally who would not have known each other otherwise.

 

And then when the owners needed to move on due to the need to take care of elderly family members out of the area, they couldn't sell the store.  They tried for months and months, and ended up selling off everything they had at deeply discounted prices and just closing it.  It seemed like the people with enough money to buy it didn't want to work so hard, and the people who were interested in working hard couldn't raise the capital to buy the store. 

 

The 'community' continues, to a limited extent, via an online group, but not in a way that anyone can fall back on or join in with, I don't think.  And I wonder what the owners did (this was peripheral to me, I'm not really in the community--I saw the tail end of it only) when they couldn't get anything for their store.  Did they expect that?  I'm thinking not.  It's a bit of a cautionary tale.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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No, I wouldn't be happy not in a community.  Since I moved frequently until almost six years ago, I changed communities frequently too.  It wasn't that I was known in the community- I usually wasn't known by very many people just people at church and homeschooling people and some military people, etc.  But I would join the local library and go regularly, become a regular at stores, have restaurants where I went, etc. I would feel connected to the area and go to local events and enjoy local open spaces or parks.  It would normally take me about six months to feel at home and by then I would have made some patterns to my life.  

 

I remember a post you wrote years ago (between Christina Space Coast and In the Woods time) about finding community. I think it was in response to a young military mom. You had a step by step plan that I thought was brilliant. I even printed it out, but have since lost it. But I remember it was great.

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I am an extrovert, and it is very important to me to be a member of *A* community. I don't know what "THE" community is - there are many sub-communities in our community (of you mean the town), and the community of town is an intersection of various smaller groups.

I am/was part of the local homeschool community when my kids were younger; a community of women interested in spirituality, natural living, and art; the campus community at our university.

I feel part of the town community by participating in community choir, shopping and hanging out at the farmers market, involvement in the women's community center.

 

If I moved, I would not live solitary; I would find ways to become involved. But I know that this can take many years; it did for me after our emigration.

 

Edited by regentrude
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I like a sense of belonging and contributing.   

 

I can remember at the house we raised our children at there was one house  on our cul-de-sac that went through a series of owners.  I think the house had 5-6 owners in the 19 yrs we lived there.   One of the last times I remember thinking... "I just can't anymore.  I can't be pleasant and welcoming one.more.time."      so, I get that weighed down feeling.   It takes *a lot* to build community (wherever that is) and it is hard to start over again. 

 

It gets harder the older you are too.  Moving in your 20-30s with small children is an adventure.  As we get more settled and set it become a chore.

 

 

 

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I like to feel a part of a community but if I had to leave a good community because we were not getting by I would. I used to feel more a part of my community but I no longer do. I just like a few close friends though I do not feel like I am an essential and need to know everyone. I have been wanting to live closer to extended family so we could see them more often since my first was born but it is over a decade later and we are still here. Since I also do not have as many friends here as I used to since many moved and others got busy once are kids hit school age it definitely makes me wish we could leave. I am very introverted. I hate parties and need lots of time to think and recharge but I also do need a few close friends and other adults to talk to and that is missing. I like a sense if community and belonging but I could seek it out elsewhere if I had a place I liked but moving was necessary.

Edited by MistyMountain
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Not.  But sort of?  It's complicated.  I need some sense of community, but to feel like a "pillar of the community," no.  I'd rather crawl in a hole.  I am freaked out when people whom I don't know well randomly greet me in public (multiple reasons).  But do I want to contribute to our community in some form or fashion?  Yes.  And I can chat with people, especially if they are good conversation starters.  DH would be fine if the only thing he saw outside me and the kids were bears.  :D  I need a few more people than that, but would prefer a few very close people than lots of acquaintances.  

 

I'm not a good person to ask about textbook options, either.

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Yes and no. If I had the time I would be more involved. Twice I tried to volunteer at local places but life got in the way. I did help with Vacation Bible School last summer and ds really wants to do it this summer, but the problem is that I have to bring dd if I go with him. And it's too far away to drop him off every day. Last summer I only did it two days as the third day I had a dental appt. and for those two days dh took off work to watch dd as a favor to me. He had enough vac. days so it was okay, but I don't like to resort to that. They provide daycare but that actually was a young girl in charge of any volunteers' kids and since I can't even handle dd I hate to put that responsibility on a teen. Ds really wants to do it again this summer and I'm trying to figure out a way to make it work. It is the last summer he can do it because of his age. The church has made it known they are seeking adult volunteers, too.

 

To a certain extent I have and continue to live in a solitary way. I do speak to people and have acquaintances but I can also be a hermit and not sure it makes a big difference. What I mean is we do a lot of our shopping in larger cities, in a different county, and I don't feel like I'm typically going to run into someone I know when I'm out and about there. I am more familiar with some families at the church but that's because I sent ds to a new church this year for their Sunday school program (the one we did VBS with last summer). Prior to the Sunday school program, we went there quite a bit, but usually to a Mass that young families don't attend.

 

I know several neighbors and that I guess makes one feel safer, but I'm not sure I have to know a lot of people to feel safe. Some areas are just low crime, laid back with friendly people and that is what makes them feel safe to me not necessarily my sense of belonging. Like if you are traveling you can stop somewhere and feel safe without being a part of that community. Likewise you could stop somewhere shady and want to get the heck out of there as soon as you can lol.

 

It sounds like you really want that connection so you'd want to live somewhere where you could make it.

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It matters a great deal to me to be part of a community.  I wonder if, in my case, it isn't due to the fact that I have a very small family--one sister, who lives far away, and all my dh's family is on the other side of the country.  I didn't grow up with nearby cousins, and if I passed my cousins on the street, I doubt I would recognize them.  I used to joke that we could hold a family reunion in my Volvo.  

 

A lot of the value of the house I live in and the one before this was the neighbors I had.  When we moved from our old house, I was really disappointed because I *loved* that house.  But a year later, the lovely elderly neighbors died (within 19 days of each other) and almost immediately, I didn't care anymore that we had moved.  We landed in a wonderful neighborhood of 4 houses--we have several parties a year together, and bring in the New Year, with the rule that The Ball Drops at 9:00.  :0)   (But the party hasn't ended before 1am yet...)

 

My dh grew up moving around a lot; I didn't.  He still has happy feet and wants to move to practically every location he visits, but I am a ball and chain because the parish community is super important to me, as are my friends who are not part of the parish.  I think I need more "family-friends" around me than he needs.  It's how I was brought up, and, to tell the truth, his way is how he was brought up.  We're going to have to find a compromise at some point, but I am pretty enmeshed at our parish and specifically with a group of women friends, and that is important to me.  

 

My involvement in the larger (civic) community comes through our parish--Salvation Army and other-sponsored meal preparation and house-building for the homeless, primarily.  For a parish our size, we do a LOT of this, and I really enjoy doing it with them. 

 

 

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It's very important to me but I think it can mean different things to each person. Being a committed and involved member of a church is crucial to me. I also love to volunteer so finding a place I can contribute without driving myself mad is a great thing. I want my kids to have connection with adults and kids in the community and to have a heart to love and serve people around them. I don't ever want to be a taker. I love and appreciate when I receive - but I want the trend in my life to be one of service and helping. 

 

FWIW, we moved 5 months ago. We're getting plugged in my doing and going - but it is exhausting. You're so right about that. It's rewarding (we're plugged in with an AWESOME Habitat for Humanity group) and have joined an amazing church -- but it's WORK to find your footing. 

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I need roots. My paternal family has been in this county for a couple of hundred years, maybe more. We don't belong to a church and don't even have a very wide net of friends, but I very much feel like I belong here and that feeling is important to me. I'm sure it could be built over time in a new location, but I have no desire to do that.

 

This is me, sort of. I feel like I'm surrounded by an invisible community.

 

Both DH and I have had family in the area for a very long time. Pretty much any region I go to in our state, there are places I associate with family members. In some of those places I have deep personal memories; in others, the connections are much older, but they still lend a sense of family connection.

 

In our immediate community I have the memories of my parents' last years, along with my kids' early childhood. There are also places associated with my dh's family long ago, and my own college years.

 

In a nearby city I have my own childhood memories. Another town an hour away was my grandfather's family home, going back to the 1830s. I can drive around there and point out places that were significant to the family back to the 1860s, and I grew up knowing the same farm in that town where my grandfather was born in 1890.

 

The whole state is kind of like that, with stronger connections in some places and weaker in others, but something significant in most regions. This isn't the sort of community the OP is asking about, but it's one I'd have a very hard time leaving. The whole area is a web of memories of people who are gone now.

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The original post is very foreign to me on many levels.

 

I have no idea what an important church is.  Please explain how the importance of churches is measured.  We have hundreds of them here: mega, large, medium, small and micro in every denomination you can think of but none that would be considered more or less important to the community than others.

Why would anyone expect someone who never met them to know who they were? That happened to me once and it was weird. Why would anyone do anything nice or mean for someone based entirely on what church they went to? How would someone be a well known child actress without being in movies? Do whole communities of people attend a particular child's productions?  We have community theaters for that and not everyone goes to them; most people don't.

How could a restaurant be something that makes a community cohesive?  How is cohesiveness measured in a community? People eat in restaurants all the time here and never interact with other groups of people eating there. There are thousands of them around here and either you like the food or you don't.  You go as the budget allows.  That doesn't have anything to do with community here.
 

I live in a city of 240,000 people in a metro area of 4.5 million. It's been listed on a few national lists as the second safest city in America.   Almost everyone here over the age of 30 moved here from somewhere else-every part of the US and different countries in different hemispheres. My parents/step-parents and grandparents who live(d) here are from: Maine, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.  My husband's parents and grandparents who live(d) here are from: California, Ohio, Indiana, and Mississippi.

 

No one here knows their neighbors unless their kids are close in age and attend the same school. Two years ago we moved here from the city next to this one, the same size and demographics.  I live in a huge suburb and went door to door to dozens of houses, introducing my self and my youngest to the neighbors (and was secretly scouting for kids.) Unless kids go to school or church together, they don't interact with each other.  They don't play in the street together. There is only 1 other kid near my youngest's age and he is non-verbal due to severe autism and doesn't interact with people other than his immediate family members even when he's around other people. 

The last neighborhood we lived in was very similar and for a time there were kids about the same age as my older two, but they eventually moved. All the houses were built in 2001.  There are 2 original owners still there on the street. My youngest had a little friend across the street who was her age and they played together all the time.  Now they get together one day most weekends during the school year and a couple times a week in breaks since it's only a 15 minute drive away.

I participate in a large homeschooling group (136 families.)  Four of us get our girls together outside the group because they're friends, but we wouldn't hang out otherwise.  We also live up to 1/2 an hour away from each other to it's no small matter to drop the kids off and pick them up.

 

I'm between churches right now, so no, visiting a new large one for the last month hasn't gotten me plugged into a community yet, but I suspect it will be like the homeschooling group in that I'll end up making  closer friends with a handful of people if we end up staying there.

My family, extended family (4 generations on both sides) are my core community.  I have friends from various homeschooling activities and churches over the years that make up some of my social circles.  I have hiking/camping/kayaking friends through my brother.  I'm part of a quilter's guild chapter of about 60 people, fewer in the summer when the snowbirds leave, but I don't get together with them outside of the twice monthly meetings.

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Nope, not important. We've moved so many times just for the heck of it, starting over is easy. The idea of knowing "everyone" in a community would freak me out; I'm way too much of an introvert to ever feel comfortable with that.

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I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "feel safe" either.   I think community can mean a lot of things though.  

 

We aren't very involved in our town, especially because our kids don't go to school here.  We aren't involved in our neighborhood community either since we chose not to join the community pool and go to a local lake instead.

 

I am loosely involved in the local homeschool community, in a very casual way.  

 

I am involved in my church community, especially the part of it that pertains to people with children (I teach Sunday School, my kids do choir, one kid is an acolyte, etc.).  

 

We are loosely involved in the community of the lake we belong to, but many of those people have been there their whole lives so we're somewhat outsiders.    

 

We are involved in the local 4-H community, although also at the periphery since we're still relatively new and my kids only do our club right now.

 

We are also involved in the community of our families. 

 

So, I guess I think it's important to be a member of a community, but what that means is open to interpretation.

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Do you need to belong to a community to feel safe? Or could you just move somewhere, and live in a solitary way??? 

 

 

To feel safe? Not so much. I do think that too many people are kind of disconnected from their communities and that that's not a good thing, not for individuals nor for the communities. It really kind of sucks, not knowing for sure if you're going to stay somewhere long enough to bother making an effort to be involved. But yes, I could just move somewhere and live in a solitary way... but I'm at a point where I'd like to just buy a house and stay somewhere for a while... long enough to finish my degree, to make friends, to bother paying attention to local politics, etc.

 

I mean, I've sort of developed some friendships in the 4.5 years we've been here, but we didn't really expect to be here this long, and this year is going to be a decision making year - my wife has asked for a promotion, and if she gets it with a decent raise to go with it, we'll buy a house. If she doesn't, she'll be looking for another job, which would almost certainly mean moving to another city, since there aren't a ton of companies here looking for her job skills. 

 

There's a book I've been meaning to read about the decline in community involvement - Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam. I've read one of his other books (Our Kids), and that one was good. 

 

ETA: oh, and we're not religious, so no church community involvement here... but there are plenty of other kinds of community involvement.

Edited by luuknam
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Count me as also not knowing what an important church is, let alone an important member of a church. Every church is important to the people it serves, and hopefully every member is important to the others. I would go so far as to say a church that encourages such distinctions may be spiritually dangerous. See Luke 14:7-11 and Matthew 23:5-7. Where in that is the sense of community for the person who is not "important"?

 

Personally, to be "known" as "important" without actually being known as a person would not feel good to me. True community, to me, is based on organic, personal connections. And yes that is something I am trying to seek more of in my life. I would love to go back to living in the small town where I would see people I really, personally know in passing all the time. Such does not seem to be our fate for the time being. Living in a bigger place, I have realized that it is incumbent upon me to get out there and start pursuing my interests more actively in order to meet people with whom I can have some sort of lasting connection and repeated communal experiences. It's not necessarily my natural inclination to do so but I believe I will be healthier for it.

Edited by winterbaby
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