Today (9/10/11) , I got an email from the creators of meet-up, you know those online communities that many million people have joined to link up with people with similar interests. What a great idea of bringing people together for a common purpose. Until now, I never really thought of it, even though I belong to a few meet up groups. It just is.
Anyway, I read this email with great interest as I didn’t know about meet-up’s history and why it was founded. I was astonished to learn that this popular way to find people with common interests came as a result of what these two people had witnessed after the attack on the World Trade Center. They wanted to see this sense of brothership continue. What a great job they have done in bringing people together on topics from sports and arts to business and networking.
This email spurred thoughts inside me since I have been digging deeper into understanding the American Culture and where it has been and more importantly where it is headed. I was thinking that this concept of community living, helping each other out and looking out for one another, was a concept that made this country strong. People came to America from all over Europe with very little money and a dream for a better life. They counted on their community and their family to help them get adjusted and find work. They stuck together, helped each other financially, helped each other emotionally. It was this community support that helped them to create opportunity for themselves. This is how things used to work. Even back 50 years ago, depending on the community, new comers were welcomed with baked good or flowers to welcome them to the neighborhood.
How does it work today?
I moved back after16 years in Switzerland partially because I missed the sense of community. I don’t know if it was because I was a foreigner but I felt less of a sense of community than I felt when visiting or from my childhood in the U.S..
I just moved back to the US about 1.5 years ago. I live now in a small neighborhood in Devon, PA. The neighborhood today is a mix of older couples whose kids have graduated from college and have kids of their own to a few of us with small children in elementary school. Although due to busy schedules I didn’t have many people knock on my door to welcome us to the neighborhood (that would be too “Leave it to Beaver”), many came by to say hello and brought cake or flowers to welcome us at my open house party.
My neighborhood gets together for holiday celebrations ( 4th of July, Labor day, Christmas, Halloween parades.) It is a nice community. My neighbor two door downs picks up my leaves and plows my driveway in the winter. Really! Most of the inhabitants have lived here in excess of 20 years so they might still be old school.
I understand neighborhoods don’t do that anymore. Why not?
Our immediate community should be a great resource to each other.
Funny, a friend of mine lives in an affluent neighborhood and he said his neighbors barely know each other and have actually sued each other over stupid petty stuff like a dog barking. As a result of not knowing each other, the suing neighbor didn’t know the man’s dog died six months prior. It wasn’t even his dog. Huh? I guess that is a reason to know people too.
9/11, challenging economic times, severe weather situations – this is what we are experiencing today. What does it mean to you? It is clearly through tragedy and challenge that we are brought together. It is at these challenging times that we grow the most through pain and /or discovery.
I believe we have been brought these challenges because we have gotten away from the idea of how we can help each other and have become so self centered over the years and I see that as a natural part of development like a teenager. As we mature we come back together spiritually as a collective and community.
What do you think? What do you notice about our communities and what does it mean to you?