I’ve never really considered myself a part of the community or the idea of a community in general. Not in an active way anyway. This is mainly since I never really felt like I had one. I also think I consider a community in a shared garden space, sharing vegetables and trading dishes kind of way. All, I now realise, are very narrow definitions of community.
The preoccupation with community was mainly born out of reading Trivial Grievances and Care by Bridie Jabour and Brooke McAlary respectively. Their books cover a lot of ground but the message within each of them is to be a part of and contribute to your community. Not that it will solve all of life’s problems but that it will create a sense of connection and satisfaction which goes beyond many of the cheap and fast ways we know how to get them today.
When I first considered which communities I belonged to, my mind went to my job. As a part of our teaching registration there is the expectation that we contribute to the school community. This consists of school staff, students, parents and/or carers and the broader community. So, a community within a community. Many of my behaviours within the community were linked to doing my job, hence why I initially dismissed my role in it. It didn’t fit my folk-like image of churning butter with my neighbours. I do however take my neighbours’ bins in a lot. This I think, qualifies me to be in the community of my street. Friends of mine have a group chat for their street which blows my mind no end. My suburb has a Facebook page and whilst I find the thought of it funny, I have no desire to be a part of it.
The goal here is not to check off the number of communities I am in (so far I have counted two) but to consider what the phrase community really means. I feel like this piece is quite stilted, but reality is, I am just trying to work through this idea whilst reckoning it with how Covid has caused our communities to evolve, pause, wither away or grow beyond what we ever pictured (a whole other box to unpack). These communities may or may not be reliant on technology, but it seems a good deal this day really are. Social media provides a sense of community. I deactivated my personal account on Instagram to focus on my media account and love when people respond to things because I really enjoy when we talk about media. Another community to add to my list (not that I’m counting but that makes three)! I also wanted to shift the focus away from a construction of me to constructing something that has a purpose to entertain, educate, serve.
In this glorious interview with Beyonce, the journalist asks Queen Bey who her community is and she speaks about the women in her life, her closest friends. Earlier in the piece she speaks about the community created by her mother’s salon. I don’t really go to the same hairdresser anymore and part of me freaks out when the barista learns my name so no wonder, I am finding this community thing difficult. Beyonce’s thoughts on community show them in a different light, a sense of belonging and realignment, somewhere to go home to.
I want to be a part of a community because I like the idea of contributing to something larger than myself. I read something on Instagram that said something like your obsession with your identity is ruining your identityand really what an articulate reminder to get your head out of your ass.
So, on that note, I am going to leave my ramblings about community here. Please chat about your community or thoughts on them in general. Afterall, we are a community (excellent, four!).