What exactly is community? Here Adam Gratton discusses his view on “Community” in his latest Guest Blog for Baba Baboon…
We all use the word Community & no doubt have each got our own idea of what we think it is, but in this current world, is what we think it is, doing our communities across Staffordshire justice?
Communities are not meant to be profound institutions, simply they are just places for like-minded people to come together. We are for the most part social animals.
For me, when I was growing up the idea I had of community was of getting along with the neighbours, well their kids, and knowing who was living not just next door to us on either side but at the end of the street, grove, close.
It has for some years now, in media, by politicians, in cafes, pubs and through conversations on the street been lamented that it is not like the ‘good old days’, when indeed you knew the comings and goings of your ‘nexties’ and you put their bins out while on they were on holiday – this still happens.
They were indeed good times filled with, as I recall during the 80s, street parties, bonfires and get togethers – even elbows on the fence chatting away to next door over a cuppa while children played in the street- this still happens.
However, the world is a much different place today and so is how we lived in it even as recently as 30 years ago. It is much bigger, faster and there are more of us.
We have more opportunity and options in how we live our day to day lives than at any time before, so what has that meant for our communities?
We are becoming ever more aware of diversity within our country, county, cities, and towns.
For me, this widening of the pool has bought, and continues to bring, many positive rewards in the evolution of where we live, across Staffordshire and in Stoke-on-Trent.
There is a lot of good being done by communities in the area, whether that be charitable, social or economic.
Wider communities, such as the pandemic support for the NHS and Black Lives Matter, have resonated close to home too, building their own support here in Staffordshire, as has been seen in the clapping and in protests in parks across the region.
For a number of reasons, people with shared experiences and lives have grown closer, whether that be through disability, mental ill-health, poverty, business, art, work, or indeed next-door neighbours who check up on one another, taking them food… it still happens. The list is endless.
Through the use of technology communities have been created and evolved amongst those who would have never thought it before, from varying backgrounds which would never have perhaps crossed.
People isolated, cut off physically, due to the pandemic lockdown have learnt new digital ways of interacting with friends and groups they were, and were not, involved with.
More of us have reached out or been reached out to during this time…
We live in a world now when being part of a local community means so much more than knowing who lives on our street, it means more possibilities for people to meet, for interests to be shared far more widely amongst those who enjoy the same past times.
Being part of a community in today’s Staffordshire means more awareness, more ways to come together and, for those dealing with hardship, more chance to be noticed and share their voice with the world in which they live.
Being part of a modern community is not about being all digital nor is it about leaving the past in the past.
Being part of a modern diverse community is still the same notion as it was 30 years ago…
It is about being committed to something, but now in the 21st century it means we have more ways to keep in touch with those we love and more ways to help those who need it.
For too long it has seemed easy to say with a frown that things are not what they used to be…
It is perhaps more difficult to realise that while they might not be what they use to, the diversity of communities we live within today enable us to widen our options, meet new people and help those who need it most while still having a human heart, whether it be over the hedge or through a video link. Community it is still happening.
Thank you for reading my latest Blog on Baba Baboon – Adam
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