Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Building Community - One Meme at a Time


You may have seen these posters in gift shops like 10,000 Villages, or in a church basement, or in a resource centre - they've been around for years.  "How to Build Community" and "How to Build Local Community".  We have them in The Witchery - Winnipeg's Pagan Temple & Teaching space.  I see them a couple times a week.  Every time I read them - or glance at them in passing - something different strikes me and makes me go "hmmmmm".....

My first question is always - what is "community" - it has to be more than just a group of people who live in proximity - or a group of people who have a common interest, but perhaps no/limited interaction.  There are many definitions and shades of meaning to this word - some loaded, some nebulous, some semantic, some assumptive.  Large communities may have smaller communities within them, Russian like nesting dolls.

I think about these helpful hints and tips for community building from what I hope is a distinctly Pagan viewpoint.  I think about how I can apply them to my life - in ways that make sense and are sustainable.  I've been turning them over and over in my mind now for awhile - and thought that, in 2010 - I might share some of my thoughts.  These opinions will be based on the theme of "let me share with you what I am learning" - which is all I ever really do anyway, I guess.

Brendan and Juni's recent visit to Winnipeg - from my personal social time with them to the evening they spent talking and sharing at The Witchery - was focused on building community.  Episode 13 of the Magical Earth Quadcast captures an evening's worth of discussion that explores a variety of ideas on the topic.  They are both well traveled and have visited and participated in communities of many kinds - Pagan, musical, agricultural, etc...  Communities are all similar and different - just like the people that populate them.

How many communities are we a part of? Faith-based - interest based - familial - workplace - volunteer - we are intricately connected to each other in a myriad of ways.  How can I be a better more supportive part of the communities of which I am a part?  How can I - me - little old me - build community?  Let me share with you - over the coming weeks and months - what I have been learning.

How To Build Community:
Turn off your TV -  Leave your house - Know your neighbors - Look up when you are walking - Greet people - Sit on your stoop - Plant flowers - Use your library - Play together - Buy from local merchants - Share what you have - Help a lost dog - Take children to the park - Garden together - Support neighborhood schools - Fix it even if you didn't break it - Have pot lucks - Honor elders - Pick up litter - Read stories aloud - Dance in the street - Talk to the mail carrier - Listen to the birds - Put up a swing - Help carry something heavy - Barter for your goods - Start a tradition - Ask a question - Hire young people for odd jobs - Organize a block party - Bake extra and share - Ask for help when you need it - Open your shades - Sing together - Share your skills - Take back the night - Turn up the music - Turn down the music - Listen before you react to anger - Mediate a conflict - Seek to understand - Learn from new and uncomfortable angles - Know that no one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this.

How To Build Global Community:
Think of no one as "them" - Don't confuse your comfort with your safety - Talk to strangers - Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels - Listen to music you don't understand & Dance to it - Act locally -  Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture - Question consumption - Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation - Look for fair trade and union labels -  help build economies from the bottom up - Acquire few needs - Learn a second (or third) language - Visit people, places and cultures -- not tourist attractions - Learn people's history - Re-define progress - Know physical and political geography - Play games from other cultures - Watch films with subtitles  - Know your heritage - Honor everyone's holidays - Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too - Read the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Understand the global economy in terms of people, land and water - Know where your bank banks -  Never believe you have a right to anyone else's resources  - Refuse to wear corporate logos: defy corporate domination  - Question military/corporate connections - Don't confuse money with wealth, or time with money - Have a pen/email pal - Honor indigenous cultures - Judge governance by how well it meets all people's needs - Be sceptical about what you read - Eat adventurously - Enjoy vegetables, beans and grains in your diet  - Choose curiosity over certainty - know where your water comes from and where your wastes go - Pledge allegiance to the earth: question nationalism - Think South, Central and North -- there are many Americans - Assume that many others share your dreams - Know that no one is silent though many are not heard. Work to change this.

No comments:

Post a Comment