Simple Community


It really doesn’t seem that long ago. Remember the days when friends would just pop in? You’d hear a knock at the door and a voice calling out, “Anyone home?”

You’d invite your visitors in and put the kettle on. You’d grab the biscuit tin then sit down for a good chat. There didn’t have to be an invitation weeks in advance giving you enough time to have your house looking like a display home. The only cleaning up would be straightening up a few bits and pieces as you headed towards the door to see who was there.

There used to be a spontaneity about getting together with friends.

Now it all has to be carefully orchestrated so most of the time we just don’t bother.

Our lives have got busier with each family member heading in different directions for a range of activities so it’s probably wise to give a quick call before visiting or to invite friends over but what can we do to reignite that sense of community?

Many times the people who would drop in would be neighbours. They’d walk across the road or down the street for a cuppa and we would drop in at their place. How many people do you know in your own street?

If we run out of ingredients for something we’re making for dinner there are several places in our suburb that we can dash out to for whatever we need at any hour of the day. We just jump in the car and we’re back home with what we need in minutes. It didn’t used to be that way. Shops weren’t always open and not everyone had a car to get to the shops anyway. We’d go next door or over the road and borrow what we needed until shopping day. We’d also lend out whatever our neighbours needed. We’ve lost that reliance on each other and lost community in the process.

Our world is constantly changing and we can’t go back.

It’s tempting to think we should just try to turn back the clock and start doing the things we used to do but that’s not the answer. It’s community we want to regain, not the way we used to see it expressed. The shape of our lives has changed but there’s still a need to connect with others. The old ways don’t work anymore but that doesn’t mean that we can’t experience community.

It’s interesting to note that around 40% of Australians say the place they experience community is the local shopping centre.

If the greatest sense of community that people feel is being in the middle of a sea of nameless faces, we’ve got a lot of work to do to see people fully engage with others and experience a deeper sense of community.

We can’t go back to what was but how can we move forward to regain community? How can we create significant relationships with those around us?

I guess the first step is to realise that relationship is far more important than so much of the stuff we’ve put in its place. What are some practical things that we can do to demonstrate that?

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Who are our new neighbours?

neighbours.jpgDo you know who’s on the other side of your fence?

We don’t seem to chat across the fence or drop in next door for a cup of sugar anymore, but does that mean we’ve lost a sense of neighbourhood. It would seem the answer is yes … and no.

Researchers are saying that while we may not interact with those living in our own street we’ve simply shifted from suburbia to the office. We’re being told that the people we see each day in our workplace have become our new neighbours.

OFFICES are replacing traditional neighbourhoods as people prefer to befriend co-workers instead of those living down the street and busy careers limit opportunities for socialising.

KPMG demographer Bernard Salt said many people opted to talk to their workmates across the office partition rather than chat to their neighbours over the

We’ve only been in our current house for about five months and we haven’t got to know our neighbours very well but we have introduced ourselves to the people either side of us and we wave a cheery hello to others in the street. Still, it’s not quite the same as when I was growing up and we’d wander from house to house with friends in the street.

Do you know the people in your street or do you socialise more with workmates?

A recent survey of 2100 Australian households for NRMA Insurance found nearly half the population never or rarely spoke to their neighbours.

A third of people said they were too busy to get to know the people over the fence and just one in five knew all of their neighbours’ names, the poll

Have we lost something by changing our ‘neighbourhood’? It’s great to have healthy friendships with the people we see each day at work but knowing that you can depend on those in your street and that they can rely on you to watch out for their interests is something that workplace friendships can’t replace.

If you had an emergency at home could you call on the person next door? Do they know that they can call on you if they need help?

Socialising with workmates means we’re more likely to have common interests, after all we work in the same industry, but I wonder if that means that we lose the diversity of connecting with people from quite different waks of life.

What’s your idea of neighbourhood? I’d really appreciate your thoughts. Please leave a comment or two.

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