When I was asked to write for Toward Community, I found it tough to know where to start. I was aware that there were plenty of talented people lined up to write for the site, all with tangible skills and knowledge bases that would touch upon a variety of topics within a broad arena. So, instead of tweezing some information into a blog-sized digest, I thought I would share a memory with you, which will hopefully shine some light onto my motivations for writing.
I have lived a pretty nomadic lifestyle over the past 10 years, and at one point during this time I was cohabiting with David (Schofield; creator of this site, and a long-standing friend) – having kindly offered me his sofa for a couple of weeks whilst I found work and accommodation. Inevitably this temporary situation became rather permanent, as things do when you’re idealistic, completely unmotivated by most of the work options available to you within a city, and enjoying trying to solve the puzzle of the world with awesome people. We spent many an hour putting the world to rights, but there seemed to be a continuing theme of “community” at the root of all of the resolutions we came to.
One morning, on his way to university, David challenged me to write a mission statement for our ideal community, and this is what I wrote:
Community Mission Statement:
A group of “investors” of a similar mind-set to create and maintain a community base that provides a home, work and education centre combining Western and Eastern philosophy and spirituality.
The centre will be ecologically sound, naturally sustainable and will help develop all of the individuals’ practical and personal skills to their full potential.
It will welcome both long and short term visitors and be an innovative and inspirational lifestyle choice to help change the traditional ideas of living within the capitalist system.
Generally, when I look back upon the artistic ‘expressionism’ of my younger days – whilst I am proud of the creativity I exhibited, I will often roll my eyes with the benefit of hindsight, or chuckle at the determined, angst filled confusion of youth that I needed to express in order to diffuse my frustrations and breathe properly again.
The piece above is very different. To me, it feels factual, it feels solid, and it feels obvious – it feels like I wrote it from a place of calm and sanity. I feel as strongly about this statement today as I did 6 years ago, and would happily live in a community that worked according to this mission statement.
I had completely forgotten that I wrote this, and would probably have assumed it thrown away even if I did remember it, until a year ago when I received a parcel from David. In it was the mission statement written hastily in my handwriting, mounted in a metal photo frame. On the back of the frame, was written this:
Nothing worth doing is ever easy. But with the right people, anything is possible.
Throughout my conscious life, gentle nudges – and sometimes not-so-gentle ones (cheers Dave!) – draw me towards the concept of community living; and I think it’s important to apply elements of this concept to our busy urban lives to make life, well, better. Whether it is spending time getting to know your neighbours and people in your area, fending off illnesses and ailments with more natural solutions than we have previously employed, diverting our attention towards the next generation and away from social media, being kinder to this amazing planet, having a working life that fulfils you…the list continues. But these are just touching on the myriad of fantastic ideas that come to the fore when you start to focus on community, and living as the universally interactive social creature that you are – rather than just placating your urge to socialise with the use of Facebook (yes we use it occasionally too…). Facebook is to socialising as MacDonalds is to nutrition.
I digress. What I was trying to say was that although I am a fair way from the community lifestyle that I feel is best for me, I will do my utmost to stay on the path towards it. I am here to share and receive information to help make life more wholesome, to nourish my logical human brain, to gently nurture the intuitive primate in me, and, of course, take care of our beautiful planet.
So; I look forward to hearing from our other contributors, and to continue onwards, Toward Community.
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