A sense of community

The best thing we can do for our community is to live as communities did in the past.  This would include sharing what we have.  Do we each need to own a tool that may only be used once every couple of years, on only for one project and when finished is kept stored in the garage, just in case?

Community is defined as a group of interacting people, living in some proximity.  Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion.

When I decided to downsize my life and eliminate most of my belongings one of the questions I was asked most frequently, after asking if I was crazy, was what if you find you need something you gave away.

Meeting my neighbors, who have all decided to live a much simpler life by moving into 300 square foot apartments, it is quickly apparent that what was important for me to keep wasn’t necessarily of great importance to another.

Some neighbors refused to part with gardening tools, others household tools or certain small appliances.  What has been wonderful has been how everyone is quick to mention that they have such and such, that another person may not have, and offer to loan the item to them.

While we normally hear about such sharing in intentional communities, or communes, you can find it right in your neighborhood if you look for it.  It is easy to transition into an environment where everyone shares what they have.  This is how people used to live, before the large homes with the double and triple garages and storage units for rent every where, and I believe this is a much better way to live. While seeing a home set apart with a lot of land between it and its neighbors, I  see these homes as a lonely place to live, separated from that sense of community so many of us take for granted.

Infinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves – our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and above all, our love.  William E. Simon

This is the way Native Americans lived.   They shared what they  had, and what they knew with others in the tribe.  Traditional families on the reservation still live this way, they would never dream of expecting someone to buy some thing they had and could be shared.

There are 16 apartments in my building, We share expertise, tools, food, and have movie nights where a few of us will get together for an evening. We have picnics, barbecue together, and frequently join others just to watch the sun set over the lake. Some neighbors have helped me with things too difficult for me to handle on my own physically, I have taught another  how to sew on a sewing machine.  Still another has recently acquired a spinning wheel and has offered to teach others who would like to learn.

This way of living is greener and cheaper.  Not everyone has to buy a grill, we share.  We share two washers and dryers.  Neighbors  have even offered space in their freezer so not everyone needs to buy their own.  In a consumerist society it’s refreshing to live where I can escape the “own everything myself” mentality.  When we share items that we use infrequently, we save a lot of money that we would otherwise need to spend to buy or rent an item for sometimes only a few minutes of use.

This is what living in a community is all about.  Helping and caring for each other. Hun Sen said: We have lost the act of sharing and caring. I believe today he may be wrong, I believe more and more communities are remembering what it was like to be connected to each other and are reaching out to their neighbors in friendship that will only grow as time passes.

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