Community and it’s Loss; What this means to me

com·mu·ni·ty  (k-myn-t) from thefreedictionary.com

n. pl. com·mu·ni·ties

1.

a. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
b. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
2.

a. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community.
b. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color.
3.

a. Similarity or identity: a community of interests.
b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
4. Society as a whole; the public.
5. Ecology

a. A group of plants and animals living and interacting with one another in a specific region under relatively similar environmental conditions.
b. The region occupied by a group of interacting organisms.

Community. It’s a broad term, but has a huge meaning to me. A friend recently blogged about this, and you can read it here. So many people have forgotten what the smaller, more personal meaning of community is. In the kind of community I’m talking about, you know your neighbors, and everyone works together to help each other. It’s like an extended family, where maybe not everyone is real close, but are still there for each other. I have been thinking of this a lot, especially as I run into projects that would really benefit from being a community project. There is no local community for me. Those willing to help each other are so spread out that it’s almost impossible to do so. How nice it would be to have other women to preserve foods with, to visit while gardening, people to help put a roof on a barn. I respect the Amish and Mennonite communities in large part because they understand this concept and teach it to their children. They help each other, even when it doesn’t directly benefit them or they have other things to do. Work is done together so that each task is manageable. Each family knows that they do not want to be a burden to their community, but they can feel free to ask for help when they need it because the others will cheerfully do all they can. In a community, everyone knows each other and the issues that arise in government entitlement programs are not so prevalent as each person knows the hand that’s helping them and how they are affected.

Right now, the fad “community gardening” is running rampant. In most cases, it will die within a year, maybe two of beginning. Why? Because people don’t realize what community means. In a community endeavor, each person must commit time, energy, and often money in an ongoing lifestyle. A community farm requires that others help in the animal and crop daily care. These are great things when a group gets together and understands that every person must contribute, but often only one or two people do most of the work while others who find themselves too busy with other parts of life just reap the rewards for a short time before giving up entirely. I find a prevailing opinion in people today that if you grow food crops or have livestock that everything is free to you, and should be to them as well. In a community, if you have more than you can use of something, you pass it on knowing that others will do the same with you when they have excess. The people in your community are close enough to see the labor you give, the time and money involved in everything you do. You can count on each other in disaster and in times of plenty.

I have tried so many times to get those close by me to work in a community. There are older people who complain that gardening is too much for them alone now that their kids are gone, or who say their grass is too much trouble these days. I offer to help them garden in return for produce. I ask if I can fence some land and run my goats in exchange for milk. Yet, these same people are so single and outside the concept of community that the idea of working together is met with revulsion and excuses. They are perfectly happy to accept my excess as long as it is free (for who would try to sell their excess when it’s free to them being the commonly held thought) or even outright ask me for some of what I have worked so hard for. It reminds me of the story of the Little Red Hen.

~Little Red Hen asked for help in all her tasks, and would have been happy to recieve only a little help at just one point to let others share in her finished product (the bread) yet no one wanted to help. They were all too busy doing other things, yet when the bread was done they all wanted some. Imagine how good that bread would have looked after all the care that went into growing and threshing and grinding the grain. The smells of a carefully followed recipe to produce a high-risen, golden loaf of soft, warm bread. The Hen did not share her bread with those that did not help, only with her family that she was responsible for.  The morel is you get the best things in life when you help produce them, and you reap what you sow. ~

Today, most people don’t even understand what it means to work hard instead of seeking out things to fill your time that don’t mean much later. I imagine as times get tougher it will begin to be more important to weed the garden than spend a day at the mall. Yet, many will still strive for the cheap imitations of the real things in life, and then look on in envy at those who have the real things because they were willing to work hard for tangible rewards. In communities, even those with less time and space can work together to have these good things, but the key is being willing to form those close-knit groups and stick with it. I hope someday to find myself in a community instead of being isolated while surrounded with people. I am thankful for those that are forming a community with me, even if our distances from each other are great, because we need each other. We all need someone we can ask for help. We all need to serve others as well. Together we are strong!

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About nigerianmeadows

I am a homeschooling mother of 2 autistic children and cook gluten-free, I homestead on 2.5 acre and raise goats and chickens for dairy and eggs, I garden, cook, quilt, and take photographs. I build, paint, scrub, and dance on tables. I am the ultimate WOMAN!!! Oh, yeah, and I like my husband a whole lot (he is the one that makes all this possible, and he loves me like no other!)
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6 Responses to Community and it’s Loss; What this means to me

  1. Laura Little says:

    Once again, an excellent, thoughtful post. I agree that people have lost sight of not only the meaning of community, but how to be a part of one. Our society has become one of Rights and Entitlements. The word Responsibility is repulsive to many. We have to make our own communities wherever we can. Perhaps it is just a community for information, a community for fellowship, a community for common interests….There may be no physical community at all, just the community of communication that keeps us lifted up and motivated and enduring. It may not be the ideal, but if it’s the best we can do, we need to go for it!

    • So true Laura! I love the online community of people who think the same way. I was very tempted a while back to encourage my husband to look into a community of homesteaders in Brazil (I think that was where), but it didn’t look so good the more information we gathered. I liked the idea though, where a community was formed that helped one another and everyone had the same interests in homesteading together and without pesticides and herbicides. I really think I’d like to live among the Amish or Mennonights. Never-the-less, I’m here and need to make a community where I’m at if possible. We just keep seeking, and the internet is a great tool!

  2. Uddermost Farm Girl says:

    As always … thought provoking and well said. I sure could use a community right now as I feel so overwhelmed by God’s blessings from the garden and farm. Maybe one day we will get there …

  3. Sarah Grove says:

    I can’t help but wonder if someone you know may have read this and felt guilt because of it! ;o) We have the very same problem here where we live. Had I known that our farm was going to be in the middle of such a thoughtless group of individuals, we may have decided to locate somewhere else. That’s pretty sad! I can count on one hand the number of individuals who would help us at a moments notice and not expect to be paid for it! Less than 5…and we have at least 75 or more families in a 2 mile radius of our farm. We have given away so many things to others…just to keep it from going to waste and helped others in need by giving them gas, pulling their vehicles out of the ditches, and of course, products grown/made here on our farm. Are they interested in giving any of their precious time up in return…nope! It’s pitiful! I’m glad we are independent and capable because we’d be in trouble otherwise! I’m so grateful for my online community of farm friends though! Even though they may not live close to me, they understand the hard work and commitment it takes to homestead in modern times like this! I applaud you Nigerian Meadows! I wish we lived closer…we would love to be part of your farming community!

    • I wish you were a next-door farmer too! Even if not everybody living close wants to be a community, at least we have one neighbor that does, and friends willing to be such at a longer distance. It’s wonderful that you have been blessed enough to share,and maybe in time it will impact those near you.

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