(For the past two years, I’ve used Reverb10 prompts to give myself a question to answer every day of December. It’s a great way to reflect on the year and set goals for the future. I’ve kept my favorite prompts, added a few from other sources, and created my own month of questions.)
Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2012? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2013?
There was a lot of talk about community at the school where I work. Some new buildings were finished and it resulted in a lot of wonderful changes. It also meant that the physical space we all worked in was much larger, and people spoke of feeling isolated. I am not sure I agree with the resentment over a 10 minute walk, or share a nostalgia of my horrid, cramped old office building, but as someone who has worked in places that were anti-community, I am invested in keeping things cozy and friendly. So I went to the meetings about our ‘issues’ and kept my ears open.
One of the things that the principal suggested was to take action on a small scale. He made the point that we can’t rely on any organization to create community for us – it’s something that happens when lots of people knit themselves together over a lot of little interactions. Now, I am sure he said it because he knew he wasn’t able or interested in starting full-scale initiatives, but it was still a good point. So I took his advice.
My new building means that I am steps from a brand new state-of-the-art gym and weight room. And the kids aren’t allowed in before 10 AM! Sweet! I had been wanting to get back into weights for a while and so I decided I’d just go. I’d put a note on my door and just go – no one will miss me for a half hour. I decided, in the spirit of community, to invite the other ladies on my floor – and there are a lot – to join me. Many were interested but there were three others that have come with me consistently. It’s a little pack of us and it’s lovely. A half hour is long enough for me to do a weight circuit but not so long that I get sweaty. As my coworker said just the other day “I can’t wait until it’s time to duck out to the gym – I have some frustration to burn off!” And we did, and we felt better.
I think that at the start of next semester I will send out the invite again to the ladies in the building and perhaps a few others. I’ll let them know that we have been doing this for a semester and have noticed that it makes a world of difference in our days. We have noticed we don’t talk about work, but it makes the work we do together better. Imagine if more people could say that? I’d love it if I could create a larger group.
I understand that my principal is right. We can’t rely on any organization to create community for us. It’s really is something that happens when lots of people knit themselves together over a lot of little interactions. This year I’ve learned – really learned by experiencing it first hand – that community is also something that only happens when people are interested in a specific thing. It doesn’t even need to be a big thing. They don’t need to be particularly passionate at first. Community building – which is the title of the reoccurring meeting on my calendar for our gym time – is something that starts with one person, who says ‘I’m going to do this. Do you want to join me?’
PS. Last year I wrote this.