13 December 2008

5 Ways to Build Community Every Day

Free Hugs in Sydney, August 2004Image via Wikipedia
Gone are the days of the front porch communities. Yet, I did some research and I found that the average person spends more than 5 Years in line. 5 years, that translates into 1,825 days or 43,800 hours or 2,628,000 minutes! That is more than two and a half million minutes. Think about that the next time you are standing in line at the local supermarket, bank, or at your local coffee house? What could you do with 2.6 million minutes? What kind of community could you strengthen?

There are so many opportunities in everyday life to strengthen our communities if you are prepared to be brave enough to stand out from the crowd and make a difference.

It doesn't take much - a smile here, a compliment there, a little bit of chivalry . . . but these days its not the norm and for many people the sheer randomness of encountering a bit of 'nice' in their day puts them on guard. And for many of us, the possibility of sideways glances or brusque rebuffs is enough to put us off even trying.

If we want to make our cities, towns and neighbourhoods into really strong, socially cohesive communities, then we need to be prepared to personally make the difference. If other people look at us askance, so be it. There's no need to start with a dramatic gesture like Juan Mann and his Free Hugs campaign if that's not your style, there are lots of little things you can do as you go about your day that can be just as effective.

Here's some ideas for everyday community building to help get you started. Go on, be brave, be nice, have fun!!

  1. Pay someone a compliment. Its amazing what a conversation starter a compliment can be. Compliment someone on their hair, their kids, their shoes . . .

  2. Open the door for someone. I know, as a Mum of two (one in a stroller), just how much of a help this can be. But you don't have to just help someone with their hands full, simply holding the door for the person coming up behind you is a gesture that doesn't go unnoticed.

  3. Pick up rubbish. Nothing says 'community pride' like tidy streets and parks! If you see litter about in YOUR community, pick it up!

  4. Say hello to your neighbour. You can't have a strong community if you don't know your neighbours. Start by saying hello next time you see them!

  5. Remember people's names - you know, the guy at the local dairy, the gas station attendant you see every day, the postman, the local librarian . . . if you want to make people feel part of the community calling them by name is a great start!

post signature

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]