Friday, June 29, 2012

Community Well-Being

Our journey into slow living has brought us to consider what the term "community" means to us in new and challenging ways. (Please check out our explorations regarding individual and environmental well-being, as well.)

When we say we're "in community" with one another the implications reach far beyond geographic associations like our neighborhood, state, and even country. "Community" means building relationships with those around us- those with whom we have commonalities in some sense.

The benefits of strong communities are extolled every day: happier, healthier people; stronger families; lower environmental impact thanks to shared resources; a sense of purpose and belonging. When we work to build up our community it is for these reasons- and many more. Simply put, when we work together to create something beautiful, everyone wins.

But strong communities don't often happen by accident. They are molded and intentionally cultivated to become supportive networks of people drawn together by common identity and purpose. In order to ensure that each community we associate ourselves with becomes strong and vibrant, we must intentionally choose to support it with our time, our talent, and our treasure.

For us, right now we are focusing on, and developing, these aspects of our community:

Family. Before anyone and everything else, our family comes first. That means making time to spend together- eating meals, gardening, playing frisbee and reading books. As any parent will tell you, the family dynamic is ever-changing and therefore so is the manifestation of these efforts in our lives. For a while we may prioritize cooking with a culinary-minded child, spending time discussing a book together as a couple, or playing Yahtzee every night of the week because that's the game that all five of us agree on. Investing time and energy into our family is essential.

Local business and agriculture. If you've been reading Simple Little Home for any length of time, or if you know us in real life, you'll know how important supporting local entrepreneurs, farmers, artists, beekeepers, etc. really is to us. It's essential. Not only is it an earth-friendly strategy to reduce carbon footprints and to build stronger communities with directly infused financial support, but our food tastes better because it's fresher and well, maybe the colors on my clothes look brighter because they're made close to home? Maybe?

Church. A faith community, whatever that means for you, is an important consideration for those living in a way to strengthen community. For us, that has meant embracing our church community and looking for ways to participate in it to grow it, strengthen it, and live fully within it. Building up a faith community isn't only a "time in" investment. The returns are significant: a friend answering a nagging insurance question, a youth group member babysitting so we can go out on a date, or an available ear to call upon when things seem to be going south.

Blogosphere. I'm going out on a limb to say that not all communities are bound by geography. In fact, I've met some fabulously supportive, unfathomably talented, unbelievably inspiring people on the web- through blogging mostly- who have certainly become a community for me. I pay attention to that community- build it by responding to friends' queries, visiting their blogs, offering support and opinions when solicited. I get the same in return- a beautiful, symbiotic relationship with those whom I have built my community.

Like-minded folks. Parents and other "Green-life" seekers, people who like good food, people who eat gluten-free food... like-minded people everywhere are inherently involved in a community with one another. Doesn't that just feel nice?

What about you? How do you support your community?

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