One of the goals of my quest is to try to create and foster community with others. I believe we each harbor a desire to connect with others, to feel heard and to feel important. Community, it seems, is a misunderstood subject in our society. We give the illusion of being connected constantly. Cell phones, facebooks, internet, reality tv shows; images and sounds from others bombard us constantly. Yet, there is no real interaction there. Families spend dinner time watching t.v. together, and that's the lucky ones who eat together at all. We won't get off our cell phones long enough to make eye contact when paying for gas. We believe twittering is the same as communicating. And through all of this I believe, we feel very alone.
So, one of my goals is to try to have real interactions with real people. Even though, sometimes, this is hard. It feels risky to smile at a stranger and say "hi" and it feels awkward to go to a meeting with people whom I've never met before and share myself. A few weeks ago, I joined Meetup. It's this online service that lets anyone form a group and it helps you organize that group with announcements and such. After joining the meetup, you pick out things you are interested in and it tells you if there are groups in your area that fit your interests. This week, I went to a women's study group. Meetup makes this part easy for anyone interested, they give you email reminders and suggest groups that might interest you. Then you get to do the brave part. You get to go to the group and meet other cool people who share your interests.
About a month ago, I received an email that let me know what book the group was reading for this month's women's studies meeting. It was called The Bigger the Better the Tighter the Sweater, edited by Samantha Schoech and Lisa Taggart. I really enjoyed this book. It's a collection of essays written by women sharing their personal experiences about being a woman. There were several times during this book that I laughed out loud - in public. The humor, though, was just a vehicle to deliver very powerful and insightful messages about challenges growing up female. Everything from breast shape and bikini waxes to aging and body shape were fair game for this powerful group of women writer's. As Sunday approached, I couldn't wait to get together and discuss these issues with other women. And I was not disappointed. Although our group was fairly small, 9 in all, our demographics was diverse along with our opinions. A lively dialogue ensued and I had an excellent time. I've all ready requested the book for next months meetup and I've signed up to attend the next vegetarian/vegan meetup. Meeting new people and great food - count me in.
I'd love to hear from others about how they are trying to connect with other people and form community. Join me - literally if you can, figuratively if you will and find ways to foster community in your neighborhoods.