Creating your wonderfully strong sense of community, where everyone feels a strong sense of belonging takes time and comes with a massive intrinsic feel-fantastic invigoration. As an early childhood educator for twenty years, I learned the cyclical benefits of how having strong and positive connections with people influenced each person’s behaviours and involvement within a community.
Feeling a Sense of Belonging
When we become empowered, listened to, involved in and take shared responsibility for our place and space, it becomes much easier to feel our sense of belonging in the community. It’s this sense of belonging that makes us feel good and in turn, willing to be involved in being part of something big or small.
Strong communities have localised knowledge & passion and are in it for the long haul – for real and lasting change.
You know when your community works. It’s authentic, naturally energising and the reciprocity vibe radiates passion, care and conversation. A healthy community benefits everyone!
Sounds so amazing, like being a community superstar! Being a part of a community that’s right for you can be as simple as you like.
Community is really about a series of small choices and everyday actions.
Creating My Sense of Community
Our move to Newcastle 20 years ago gave me a reason to establish new connections within my geographically-based community.
The Australian Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has given me clarity about what it means to be connected with and contribute to this planet.
I have unconsciously followed a similar pattern of connections to my positive, childhood sense of community.
How I’m a part of my everyday community:
- Say “hello” with a smile
My friend of three years tells me how clearly she remembers me welcoming her to the neighbourhood and as it turns out, to Newcastle and Australia!! Now that’s a hello that I didn’t expect would turn out like that, but wow!
I walked past her house at the same time she closed her car door, which was the perfect time to say hello to anyone. I was carrying a piece of furniture that I’d picked up from bulk waste clean up, which became a real conversation starter!!
The simple expression of saying a friendly “hello” with a smile may become your really supportive involvement in your area. There is no obligation to have a cuppa and become besties with everyone you meet in the neighbourhood!
- Spend time in your front garden
Weeding, planting, pruning and “smelling the roses”. Just being in my front garden has sparked lots of kind, gentle conversations with people in my neighbourhood. I meet so many physically active people in the area, who will often stop to have a chat about something they’ve noticed in my garden.
Pip Magazine’s (Australian permaculture mag) article “Viral Kindness Community in a Global Crisis”, supports the benefits of gardening in public – “gardening in your front yard is a great way to offer a kindly presence in your community without getting too close”. It’s one idea for us to stay connected with our community in times of need.
- Be with People who are Right for You
Surround yourself with people who give you strength, share a common ground and accept you for being imperfectly perfect.
I feel ten times more motivated when I’m with authentically positive people, who are happy to share the usual ups and downs. Positive people exude little lights of connection and a sense of belonging to the greater community.
Being with others who share the same common ground as us is imperative to keep our sense of belonging alive! But remember that diversity adds choice, gusto and perspective to our communities. Having the skills to act with compassion and kindness, solve problems, show concern for others, and respect different ways of being and doing can also be valuable to our community.
I’m totally about being imperfectly perfect! Thanks to my gorgeous friend of 15 years for her sage conversations about acceptance, understanding and the concept of living you that’s best for you! This influences the type of community and groups you’ll be drawn to. I welcome unsolicited drop-ins or rings on the doorbell with people in my immediate community.
Finding a healthy balance of people who are right for you is key to making your community healthy and strong.
- Start Small
Taking small, actionable steps, starting with yourself, is a move forward to broader community opportunities.
I love gardening, but know that I’m not yet at that stage to be wholly self-sufficient by growing my veggies. Yet. Instead I prefer to support other locals who excel in this field, such as Habitat in Harmony Community Garden and Feedback Organics.
Starting a small egg co-op with the people I know benefits both myself and my friends. And a local business, The Local Yolk. I think I’m known as the “Egg Lady” in my egg-cellent community of collective egg buying lovers!
- Support Local Community Groups
Joining local community groups are an excellent example of groups based on action and geographic place.
Warners Bay Sustainable Neighbourhoods Group is my most local sustainable living community group. For a small donation, my blunt secateurs became sharp again at their most recent Repair Cafe. The secateurs now glide through branches! I feel encouraged to return to their next Repair Cafe with a completely different item in need of a loving repair – this is one way I support my local community group.
An Interconnected Community
“At the end of the day,
at the end of the week,
at the end of my life,
I want to be able to say that I
contributed more than criticised.”
Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
I felt this quote by Brené Brown aligned with the idea that belonging to a community is all about connections and reciprocal contribution rather than criticism.
Being with people and hearing their stories, perspectives, and interests come naturally to me. I also like to help people with that little something, whether it’s to reach a higher shelf, navigate the shops or even park their car! It’s these little things that contribute to my sense of community.
My connection and sense of belonging in the community has broadened over time. With good relationships comes more connections. Everyone is connected, just as Reena’s (from Newy with Kids) article Newcastle and Two Degrees of Separation describes so well. An interconnected community who’s knowledge, skills and interests help out as a collective in our everyday.
Relationships are the Foundation of Strong Communities
With simple connections, you can easily start creating your wonderfully strong sense of community. It’s our relationships which are the foundation of strong and healthy everyday living communities.
How you do and figure out how to establish your sense of community is going to feel different for everyone. Your place, work, family, interests, personality and how you find comfort and joy will all influence your sense of belonging. Explore and thrive in your community or two of choice!
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