and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."
- TS Eliot
I thank God every day I was born and raised in a small town- Scottsboro, Al, and I still love my hometown. I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, living in a small town versus a big city, but had I grown up in a large metropolatin area I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity to live in a small town.
There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to both, but in smaller towns the sense of community is usually much much stronger. I can remember growing up knowing the majority of the people that lived on my street. Many of them would have us inside their houses for snacks or just to visit. I can also remember riding my bike all over the entire city without a care in the world. Perhaps most tellingly, I can remember people coming by our house when there were sicknesses or deaths in the family.
I can also remember socializing with people that had much much less than me, and with many who had much more.
Unfortunately, as America has grown and become more diverse, the level of social trust has declined in small towns and big cities alike. That being said, I am hopeful we can still build this sense of community.
We know for certain that a sense of community helps people live longer and better lives, and helps people deal with stress, tragedy, and loss better.
Here are some suggestions for building community, wherever you live:
- Walk around your neighborhood and make an effort to talk to people
- Do something kind for someone who lives near you
- Join a civic group
- Join a neighborhood association
- Join a church or religious body nearby
- Have a party and invite your neighbors
- Welcome new people into your neighborhood
- Join a sports league, book club, or garden club
- Join a gym or YMCA
I'm a very independent and somewhat private person, but life was not meant to be lived alone. Make an effort to reach out and build community. You'll get out of it what you put into it.