Definition: A group of people living in a particular local area, having common ownership, or having common interests, values or goals; a district where people live; a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other.
The word community comes from the Latin word “communis” which means common. When we are in community we share a common bond and are like-minded with regards to values, interests, geographical location, and affiliations of numerous kinds. The interpersonal support gained from community creates a bond and can provide sense of belonging and connectedness. This supportive network increases our overall well-being in social, emotional or physical ways.
Traditionally, community formed around geographical location and habitat. Our first community was family, then extended family and, eventually, the tribe. We are social animals, naturally forming affiliations and finding connection with others through likes and dislikes as well as needs and common goals. These extended relationships and mutual supportiveness have been important factors in our survival as a species. Communities, however, have broadened beyond local neighborhoods to the World Wide Web, where online communities are formed through social networks, chat rooms, and gaming communities of various kinds.
Today’s accessibility to the global community has expanded our awareness about how interconnected and interdependent we all are. This change of consciousness asks us to expand our thinking and actions to include a broader sphere of community – our humanity. That which makes us unique and different is also the place where we come together. When each person offers their individuality in a manner that is whole to the community, it creates a bond of mutuality, respect and support that is beyond measure.
Sometimes our connection to community changes. We may move away and have difficulty maintaining connection with people, or we may lose community through changes in affiliations or common interests. Communities that were once a good fit for us may no longer fulfill a supportive role. When this happens, it can feel like we are being constricted and asked to conform to the values and interest of the group, which may no longer be in alignment with our concerns.
If you pulled this card you may want to explore the nature of community for you. What is the extent of your circle of interconnectedness? Do you have a supportive community? Is it time to reach out to, or find your community? Are your communities still of value for you? Do you still have a shared bond in your community? What do you offer to your community? How do your choices impact the greater community?
2011 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski