How to Build a Strong Community

Following on from the last blog and podcast Ed and I have been talking about community, certainly in my case, after Roberts car was written off outside the house, people have rallied around and helped. There has been a real sense of community. Ed is becoming a community fanatic in his drive to make our roads safe and encourage people to take to their bikes. He has a strong sense of community.

I was also struck by a recent documentary series on Channel four that shows the interaction between a home for older people and a group of four year old children. It shows the huge benefits and gain made by both the old and the young through communication, caring and creating of community. Why do we put older people in homes rather than maintain the extended families that allowed for the interaction and support of all ages. While contemplating this idea of community and the sense of belonging it reminded me of Hygge.

Hygge is a concept that goes beyond Denmark and also embraces the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway. Hygge is associated mostly with Denmark because the Danes repeatedly come out statistically as being the happiest people on the planet.

“the complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle soothing things”

I guess that in any community there will be conflict. However in a true and supportive community any stresses will be minimised. We all have a choice to create our own lives and communities. Community has no cost it does not require wealth, it is all an attitude of mind.

So what is community other than a group of like minded people?

1: Safety

A community that is safe allows for trust between neighbours were you feel safe to be out at night alone. We can leave our child sleeping in their pram outside the front door in the sun and fresh air without fear. We need not worry if the house door or the car is left unlocked or the windows open. We know that those around us will look out for us.

 

2: Community

Community is a big family and a big family is a community. The warm social experience of groups and friends socialising and simple parties and gatherings are community. It might be a group of mums meeting for a coffee after dropping the kids at school. It might be the gathering of a group of line dancers, or even the camaraderie of the gym.

In years gone by communities gathered to celebrate christenings, engagements, weddings, birthdays, national holidays and every other excuse to gather and celebrate the fact that we are all one community.

3: Exercise

In a community, (as Ed would confirm), a walk or a bike ride is good. But, if you are going to do it why not do it with friends, do it as a group. We know that exercise is good for us. Many people now seek to hit the ten thousand steps a day to keep fit and at a moderate weight. We also know that when you move your body your brain secretes endorphins that are the happy hormones. When we do things together as a community those endorphins are bending, they bind us together,

4: Environment

How many times do you see a town or village with the roads full of litter?

Looking after our environment is looking after our community. Clean and tidy spaces leave us with a calmness that allows to live in a harmonious place. And, harmonious place equals harmonious mind, equals harmonious community.

5: Reduce the stress

When we live in complex communities they require us to make decisions all the time. Our larger societies are complex communities. Indeed, we could describe the entire human race as one large community and planet earth as our village. But, do we look after it and keep it clean? We have a choice and yet choice is both liberating and disabling.

Choice can be overwhelming. If the choice is do you want brown bread or white bread the decision is simple. If we walk into the supermarket and are faced with fifty different loaves of bread the decision can become very stressful. Community, local shops are smaller and require less choice. Shopping malls and supermarkets often break up communities and also create stress.

6: Give your community value

This might be your local community, school community or work community. Do we see them as important and give them the value that they deserve? Often we will give more value to the people that we identify as within our community and give less value to strangers.

In the Mitch Albom’s book ‘The Five People That You Meet in Heaven’ he describes strangers as ‘family that you have yet to get to know’. I really like that concept. In my life I have found so many people who have and are family.

What value do you give your community?

This is one of those topics where I can climb aboard my hobby horse and stride off into the distance. The important things about all community, and the community of all the human race is simply this…

If we all took the time to look after each other we would all be okay

That is community

Be happy and look after each other

Sean x