I read an article recently in The Mother Magazine about paying it forward and decided i might as well join. i don’t currently feel i have lots to offer the community but i do not that i will and that some skills aren’t obvious but are needed – one of the skills cited is ‘listener’ another ‘friend’ and another ‘food shopper for the elderly’ all of these skills are things that used to be available widely in your local community. that was when there were communities. these days we are very much isolated. most families exist solely as the new family unit without extended family support (mine included) and without a community surrounding them.
when i was growing up (the part in England not Spain) I was surrounded by community and i didn’t know it. we lived on quite a large council estate and at least in the surrounding streets we all pretty much knew each other. i walked an old lady’s dog on a daily basis as she wasn’t able to, parents mucked in together taking care of the kids – as in ‘i’m just heading up the shops can you watch junior for an hour’ kind of thing. we knew when one of the elderly neighbours was sick and our parents helped them out. if someone needed a lift to the hospital or doctors then there was one available. i was lucky enough to have an even larger community in that the spanish immigrants in the area all got together to do ‘spanish things’, all the kids spoke spanish, we learnt to dance to spanish music and we ate spanish food, all sharing recipes and food at all gatherings. as i grew older the sense of community on the estate changed. people began speaking to each other less, it became more nods of greeting rather than finding out how people were. maybe it was because we were all growing up at the same time but also more and more new families were arriving all the time. more families arriving shouldn’t have made things that different as there were still the same number of houses etc but i suppose the estate was built in 1974 and everyone i grew up with moved in between then and 1980 (we moved in in 1976) so i suppose we’d known each other of old, the parents had had a sense of getting to know the area etc together and when the turnover of families started it changed things, new people, new ways. maybe there were so few of the old left it didn’t feel the same, maybe that was all it was but the estate i left in 1995 was a very different estate to the one i grew up in. definitely no sense of community, the only sense was one of fear and isolation – i was very glad to leave.
this was meant to be about the renewal of community, and it is. as someone who grew up in one and who had – and still does have a huge desire for community i felt i had to join ‘justfortheloveofit’ as this way, maybe i could regain a little of that sense of community. where i live we only have one direct neighbour, but there is no neigh bourliness, i do think that in an emergency we could rely on them – and they could us, but there is no sense of knowing each other at all and definitely no neighbourly feeling, they just happen to live next door to us. I don’t like that feeling but i’m not sure whether it’s one that will change. i hope that by reaching out to others locally (jsutfortheloveofit only give details of those within 10miles of your home) i can regain that sense of community and show my daughters what it’s all about.