The idea of community has been one that has long been of interest to me.
One of the definitions I found was: “A group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risk and other conditions may be present, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.
One community can contain many others. For instance, the Hodgenville community contains various religious communities, organization communities such as Rotary or Woman’s Club, the business community and education community.
If you are on Facebook, you have various groups of “friends” listed. Some of those are communities we are born into or fall into by location. Most are related to choices, conscious or unconscious – religion, family, special interests shared by the community.
William Morris said, “Fellowship is heaven and lack of fellowship is hell; fellowship is life, and lack of it is death; and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowships’ sake ye do them.” (A Dream of John Bell, 1886.)
Living next door to someone does not create community. Interaction, trust and communication are required. A common interest – even if only in survival – is vital. Three aspects of community sometimes are called tolerance, reciprocity and trust. I would add to that pride, as in “We’re Abe’s hometown,” or “LCHS won the championship again.”
The theory of social capital says that for all members of a community to prosper, all should cultivate social capital or a community core attitude linking people together in purpose and endeavor; the same thing will bring us cleaner, happier cities where people are more welcome.
Someone once wrote: “As a rough rule of thumb, if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half. Regular club attendance, volunteering, entertaining or church attendance is the happiness equivalent of getting a college degree or more than doubling your income. Civic connections rival marriage and affluence as predictors of life happiness.”
The link to happiness and longevity is well accepted. Like infants who die from “failure to thrive” because of lack of human touch, adult humans wither inside from isolation and crave contact and common purpose with others – whether they know it or not.
Main Street/Renaissance is an organization that takes social capital/community spirit and turns it into a way to better your community. Our volunteers work hard to make things more attractive, more appealing, to better preserve our history, to grow the sense of community already present.
I used to enjoy the TV show “Northern Exposure” about a group of characters who were defined by their community’s boundaries, living in Alaska in near-wilderness conditions. There were so few of them that each person was vital to the overall group, like a puzzle that could not be complete with even one piece missing. They had to rely on each other, to work together. They had common goals to help them survive and to enjoy life and be happy.
Take a moment to see yourself in context of our very personal relationships and our connections with the various communities we see ourselves within. If you are reading this, you must be someone who cares about or at least has an interest in Hodgenville, so welcome to our community.