In my 20’s I thought community was a cringey concept exclusive to “old people”. Honestly, who really wants the Coronation Street / Eastenders type interaction with their neighbours where they’re constantly sticking their oar in your business? Community just seemed like more hassle than it was worth. So there I was, moving from flat to flat, never knowing who lived beside or above me. I was OK with it. I moved 10 times in 10 years so there was little point making an effort when life felt so transient. It was when I bought my own flat and essentially laid roots that I thought community could be a thing.
Three years on, I didn’t know anyone on my street. I knew the guy who lived above me because he introduced himself, but I had no clue who else lived near me. I didn’t even recognise faces. In my defense, I travelled a lot for work, leaving the house and returning very early or very late. It was only when I started to feel the pain of loneliness (see The L Word) that I thought about community. So, I set about making changes (see From Eden to Hell and Back). The upshot was that I created a street party, which was filmed by Eden Communities (kind of a big deal…eeep!) which you can watch by clicking here.
What Happened Next?
The day itself was fucking amazing. Of the 37 households on our street, about 70% were represented. We had music, food and drink, games for the kids and everyone loved it. The buzz on the street after was really positive and it became a talking point. Since then, there has definitely been a shift. People talk to each other and help each other. For example, my neighbour’s car had a flat battery and instead of walking past like I would have done before the party, I stopped and helped. It’s small things like that which make the difference. I have been involved in lots of interactions with my neighbours since then and it’s lovely being invited round for dinner or seeing people I know in the local pub and having a chat. It makes me feel connected to something bigger than me. It makes me feel safe.
Does Community Apply to You?
What I have realised is that community doesn’t have to be restricted to the street you live on. It’s a concept that translates to every part of life. Community could be what you feel when you go and watch your local football team, it could be charity or voluntary work you’re involved in, it could be where you work, it could be the sports class or gym you attend, maybe it’s your faith community. Either way, it isn’t just for “old people”. It might be that you’re quite happy with just your family or the people that you live with and that’s OK but you might be missing out on a rich tapestry of people and connections that will enhance your life. As I write this I’m sat next to a friend I met at Eden Communities. I wouldn’t have met her had I not looked beyond my own bubble and branched out. We’re now able to help and support each other in lots of areas of life, both personally and professionally and I’m much richer for it.
So yeah, it’s not scary or weird, just put yourself out there and create a community wherever you want it. Smile at someone, say hello. What’s the worst that could happen?