According to Dictionary.com, the definition of community is “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage”. However, for so many of us, the true definition and the way a “community” helps us and makes us feel is much more important than the definition implies.
If you look back 50 and 60 years, the concept of community was more prevalent. It was a way of life. The sense of community did not need to be forced or made up because it was naturally a part of our existence. Fast forward to the present, in this age of technology, and the necessity of belonging to a community is discussed more. People are missing this connection and are making efforts for it to become present in their lives.
Yes, we might connect more with some people through social media than we would be able to otherwise, but at the same time, it has also pushed many of us away from having personal, meaningful connections.
Why is it important to build strong communities within our neighborhoods? When faced with moving, why look for a new home where a sense of community exists? The reasons are simple yet so important.
Living within a community gives us a sense of belonging. It unites us. Communities help us raise our children and gives our children strength in numbers and support. Knowing we have our “tribe” or community of people that are close to us and share the same values gives us comfort when looking for childcare or play dates. Our children have opportunities to belong to groups and thrive instead of being alone or getting involved with the wrong people. Whether it be a sports team or a school club, our children not only have their own family to support them, but also other families, children, teachers and team leaders.
Within communities, local businesses have an opportunity to expand and prosper from word of mouth.
Members of a community watch out for one another and support each other. Neighbors know each other and talk to each other. They know when something is amiss and report it to the police, helping to keep our families safe.
Building a strong community can also have a positive effect on what is happening around you. By coming together, voicing concerns and communicating, you can work towards strengthening your economy and making a safer place to live. You can work with your town government to bring in more businesses, develop programs for your elderly neighbors, create a neighborhood watch program, or help build parks and playgrounds.
Perhaps you find yourself moving to a new town and do not know anyone. Ask around, talk to your neighbors, stop in to the local businesses or town hall and get a feel for the opportunities to support or help. Find out what groups might be available for you and your kids to join.
Even if you typically prefer to keep to yourself, the benefits of living within a community cannot be denied. Studies have shown that people with close friendships are happier and healthier than those without a close circle of friends or social network to talk to and rely on. Communities are social networks. They come together for the common good and use their voice to support each other and raise each other up.