In February I wrote about the importance of community and the importance of a sense of belonging. One of our dog park regulars read the article and pointed out that we had developed our own small community right there in the dog park.
This got me to thinking about the nature of community. Like so many things in life, we tend to think monolithically. That is we think about THE community without necessarily recognizing that the larger “community” is itself made up of numerous smaller communities and that we are members of many communities, not just one.
Take our group at the dog park. Do you really consider a group of strangers who happen to walk their dogs at the same time and place each day a community? Probably not. But over time, that group of strangers has somehow become a group of friends, some of us quite close. We’ve shared the highs and lows of our life, we’ve helped each other out when help was needed, and we’ve had our little spats and made up. We’ve shared movies and books, attended openings of new business ventures, invited each other to social activities – what else would you call this if not a community?
Some of us have even gone so far as to cross over into other communities or create new ones. One new friend became interested in my hobby and is now an active part of our local group. Two other friends share an interest in creating dried food products. Another friend is working on a new business and uses the group as a sounding board for ideas and advice on marketing.
Community is not just about friendship, although it is friendship that binds the community together. It’s really about knowing that you can reach out to the community when you’re in need, with the unspoken assumption that you will contribute when others are in need.
And to think this all came about because we shared a single common interest in dogs!