Community and sustainability

I wouldn’t entirely describe myself as anti-social; but I’m quite happy spending a fair amount of time on my own, and I can find it quite hard to go out and put myself in new social spaces.

I was interested to read this week two articles about community participation. As Belinda points out, in the long run if you’re expecting a major change in our current society, community is a necessity rather than a luxury.

I absolutely agree with this in principle. In practice, I’m finding it harder to engage at that level than I’d like. I’m increasingly aware that part of the problem is that I feel unsupported. The various groups or community events that I aim to attend (e.g. the local nature reserve meeting tonight) are often also potentially interesting to the people I’m closest. But in practice, those people usually lack the time, energy, or social inclination to go along.

Now, that’s not anyone’s fault, and of course, it doesn’t prevent me from going myself. But it does mean that every time I try to expand my social or community circles, I have to take myself away from my existing social links to do it, rather than being able to integrate them. That by itself makes the whole process harder.

It also means I’m always going to these things on my own. Which isn’t usually a problem for me; I spent 10 months pottering around the world on my own, meeting people and going to things with no problems. But I didn’t expect any social support then, because I had no existing social circle.

The only option (other than to give up!) is to keep looking for new opportunities, keep pushing myself to do this on my own, and to try to find the places where I feel comfortable and can make new friends and acquaintances. I think it’s important to do all of that. I could just wish I found it a little easier.

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One Response to Community and sustainability

  1. Juliette Culver says:

    I've got quite involved in our local community the last couple of years (I'm a trustee of the village hall and on the committee of the town's residents group for example). However I realised from the start that it would never integrate with my existing social life or be a substitute for it, perhaps because most of the other people are retired (although some of them are now very good friends and I went to my first 80th birthday party this year!). Maybe it was also easier because none of my existing friends lived nearby alas and seeing them in the evenings isn't really practical so I didn't feel I was having to make sacrifices in that sense. Also I guess the amount of time I have spent has increased very gradually and even now it's probably only one evening a fortnight.

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