This is my fifth and final instalment on community for now. (I can almost hear the sighs of relief). I think the message has been pretty clear - we do better and are better together.
Community is about finding people and place that make us feel we are at home. By building community we put some order in the fragmented world around us.
Five Reasons why Community is Important.
Community gives courage:
People who say just the right thing at just the right time give us courage to pursue our dreams, confront our fears and live with less anxiety. A life free from fear is a life that can accomplish anything.
Community gives hope:
In a painful, uncertain world the understanding and supportive nature of good, honest community can provide the hope necessary to press on and take chances – no matter the challenge.
Community gives options:
Life without community is lonely; it’s lacking in social events, intimate conversation and deep relationships. A strong network of people grants options for a night out, friends to call in a crisis and someone to share a funny story with.
Community gives constructive feedback:
No one is perfect. The loving people in our lives know that better than anyone and can be a significant part of our individual growth and change. They can offer constructive feedback about us, our decisions and relationships.
Community gives joy:
community is shared fun.The shared memories, laughter and times spent with our closest circle of friends provide memories that last for a lifetime.
Having a community around us is important for these and many other reasons. It means that we're not in the world alone, we're not fighting our battles by ourselves. Within a community, we have others we can turn to for help and support - perhaps just to seek advice or at times for more literal support. We have others to share our lives with, to care for and help in their time of need.
When we have a stronger sense of community we feel like we’re an important member of a group. That’s why every organisation, team, club, or gang is formed. We’re closest to the that feeling when we’re around people we care about. No sports team or company ever thrived when everyone was in it for themselves. Our lives can be made much easier if we band together with people based on commonality.
Community is a buzzword, but it’s easier said than done. And often it’s more talked about than it is practiced. Developing community can be awkward. Creating community means pushing ourself beyond our comfort zone, our insecurities and our discouragements.
So how do we improve our community connectedness - a huge challenge for so many of us in a time-poor world?
Invite people into our life, and into our home. Let people see our imperfections. Being open with our imperfect homes and meals, helps others to feel more free to be themselves.
Being a part of a community means taking all of that community on board, in all its beauty and ugliness, and approaching it with kindness and understanding. Walking in others’ shoes, seeing the world through others’ eyes, and trying to find a way to move forward together.
How does one keep from "growing old inside"? Surely only in community. The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people…. Taking community seriously not only gives us the companionship we need, it also relieves us of the notion that we are indispensable.
-- Robert McAfee Brown
Every two weeks at Western Heights we come together as a full school community for a Full School Assembly we call Whanau Time. This means Family Time, and at the core of community is family.
Family, community, love - words that I probably overuse and thereby reduce their effectiveness. Still I will risk it one last time in closing this article and series. I love our Western Heights School Whanau. I love our Henderson Heights Community and I love west Auckland. This is my community, this is a spiritual as well as physical home for me and I will continue to work hard with all the wise and wonderful people in our community who share these loves and are putting that love into practice to make this community stronger and more precious than ever.
I’ll conclude with a quote from Tom Vilsack, “People working together in a strong community with a shared goal and a common purpose can make the impossible possible.”
Greetings to all the families and friends of Western Heights school.