Community Building

Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in Blog, Featured | 8 comments

Community Building

Farn and I recently invited our neighbors over for an Open House…some late afternoon wine and appetizers. It took about 15 minutes of effort to write an email to all of them inviting them over. And everyone came. We hadn’t seen anyone for months and it was fun to get caught up, share stories, and laugh together. Afterwards, I was thinking about why this has taken so long.

A lot of it has to do with where we are in life. For almost all of us, our kids are living somewhere else, we’ve retired or are close to retirement, and we’ve developed our own little patterns that are hard to break. I didn’t get the sense that any of us are bored or restless. But we’ve replaced our work routine with another form of routine.

We also live on a steep hill with big lots so we don’t walk by our neighbor’s homes as often. But I’m not sure that would make a difference. We now live in a “back yard” society. When I grew up, we had a big front porch that we would all sit out in. Our neighbors would walk by and we would end up having a nice conversation with them. But that is becoming rare. Everything is now in the back of the house—porches, decks, views, and silence. It cuts us off from each other and we’ve become more isolated.

Another reason that it has taken so long to come together is that we no longer have kids living with us. Kids are the magnets. They bring everyone together for soccer games, school activities, concerts, and the like. When our boys were growing up, we had so many friends, so many gatherings. We felt connected to the community.

Now it’s more difficult to connect to the community. Farn and I have grandkids in the Bay Area so we spend considerable time there. And my siblings live all over the country. When I was growing up, kids and family didn’t move far from home. They stayed around and created a strong social bonding. But more and more, they are flapping their wings and leaving home earlier.

It just takes more effort now. We’re on our own with no kids to lead the way. The effort isn’t in writing the invitation to come together. That’s easy. But it requires slowing ourselves down and breaking the patterns that keep us so isolated from each other. That’s more difficult. And let me be clear—I’m not advocating parties every weekend. That’s not my intention. My introversion would rebel. I just want to stay connected and feel as though I’m part of a community. Somehow that’s important.

8 Comments

  1. So well said!

  2. Great blog, John…so very true! Gone are the days of “progressive dinners” and post play parties until 3 am. On to small, short get togethers…it really does help to feel “connected” to the community (neighborhood). It does feel “different”, however, being the “senior” member of the group lol!!

  3. We too find it not as easy to connect. We enjoy our church and are involved there but would like to develop social time together so that we can get to know others better. We’re not into drinking. So that lets out the having friends over for drinks. We’ve decided to have a game night once a month, inviting a small group of friends over on Friday nights from 7-9 p.m. to play card and board games. Light refreshments – ice tea and coffee and a dessert or maybe fruit. Will let you know how it works out.

  4. Interesting topic John. I have noticed the new routine Bob and I have now that he is retired and I’m not chasing work anymore. We have become more of homebodies. As you know LA living doesn’t really allow for spontaneity. This year for our 35 th annnavery we are inviting everyone on our block to wine and cheese to celebrate us being in our home on that street for all of those 35 years. The “hood” has changed. Built in 1950 for returning WWll vets it became one of Americ’s dream spots with swimming pools and White Pickett fences. Kids galor. Street gatherings. The usual white suburb coming and goings. We moved in 1983. And since then the hood has become the face of young family professionals. But no longer just white. Black,Asian,middle Eastern,Persian, Slavic…I can’t even name the diversity. And children still play in the street, mothers and fathers join the kids with a glass of wine.
    Bob and I enjoy interacting with these good people; as we do indeed sit on our front porch. (With our cats eyeing the dogs in the street)

    Thanks for nudging me to me reflect on this delightful aspect of my life.

  5. Precisely on target, John!!!

  6. John, great point in building community. Although I’m not near retirement and my kids are still young I’ve been realizing more the importance of community in any stage of life and less focus on climbing the corporate ladder. I see that your blog talks about community within the context of your neughborhood, and some posted about inviting their neighbors for wine, etc. But,what’s your thought on best method to build a close kmit community with whom you can share just about anything? I’m beginning to realize that this doesn’t happen just with time but that we have to make it intentional. Would love to hear your thoughts about how you developed your closes friends, outside of your spouse.

  7. I love this offering. I live a bit outside of Reno now, on a rural ranch, in a house with a big wide wraparound porch (not something I imagined back when I was leading tours in Italy!). My roommates and I open our doors to community every so often — sometimes large weekend-long gatherings, sometimes smaller potluck dinners with friends, but always with the intention of celebrating how much more fun life is when we’re sitting, eating, talking, working, and laughing together. We feel more connected, we feel less alone, we feel more hopeful and alive.
    All the best to you and Farn.

  8. I still sit on my big front porch with my dog and read a book. When I see folks walking down the street, I wave and say hi. Often, conversations ensue. Pet dogs can be a magnet for conversations, as children are. I make new contacts and feel more connected to my neighbors, in the place where I have lived since 1975. I have no problem talking with strangers. I even run out to say hi and thank you to the garbage pickup guys and the recycling crew. They look for me and wave and it is a regular Monday-morning ritual. We need each other. We need to encourage and acknowledge one another, whether we know their names or not.

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