Do You Have a Sense of Community?

Are you wondering what it means to have a sense of community?  Actually, there are many ways to interpret it. Among them are:

  • Do you feel part of a community anywhere, e.g. where you live, go to church, belong to an organization, part of an extended family, etc?
  • Are you able to pick up the phone and casually contact another member of your community (ies)?
  • Do you contribute to a community, whether it be nearby or far away?
  • Are you seriously interested in the members of your community and are you there to help them out when they are in trouble?
  • Do you believe that working in a community with others can be more important than doing it all yourself for a greater gain?
  • Have you chosen a community where you can best utilize your talents for doing your part, i.e., writing, drawing, being a part of a committee?
  • Do you actually participate in the communities to which you belong? What is your role there? How do you see yourself as helping others through your community?
  • Do you believe in paying it forward?
  • Do you actually have a sense of community where you can feel that you are serving others without seeking any reward?

As I said earlier, there are several ways of looking at communities, and I have just begun to cover them. One of the great things about belonging somewhere is that you hopefully form camaraderie with others. Another is that you help others through the community and that you experience satisfaction when doing this.  A study sponsored by NIH searched for definitions of community with the following as the most prevalent among the group asked:  “A common definition of community emerged as a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.”


Family Reunions

Seeking community through the family is primary with many of us for several reasons:  Our families are getting smaller these days, and many of us are getting older and older.  We yearn for connection but don’t quite achieve it.  Some of us dislike attending family reunions–communities where we should fit right in–for the following reasons:

  • We fear being compared to the rest of our family.
  • We see ourselves either in the higher or the lower end of the success spectrum and may be uncomfortable in either.
  • Are we reluctant to talk about certain issues because we don’t want to offend even our own relatives.
  • Often we experience rejection from our own family members.
  • Some of us get angry because the majority of attendees appear to be there for the lunch alone, not to mention all the take out they can muster.
  • There is no real attempt to extend the family’s history in writing or in pictures for future generations.

For the most part, everything I just wrote about family reunions can be substituted for many forms of community. There are some differences which include traveling long distances, which most people are reluctant to do unless there is enough incentive to do so.

“A good way to learn to love our relatives is to spend time together in well-planned family reunions. A family reunion can be a very personal and privileged gathering. If you have never organized your family for a reunion, start now—you will receive joy far beyond your expectations. Yes, there will be discouragements. Some family members will say they don’t have time or that they are too busy. But the rewards more than compensate for the discouragements.” -Alma Heaton

On a more positive note, people tend to enjoy family reunions when

  1. Family histories are maintained with updates being published regularly.
  2. Families collect money for a scholarship fund for other family members.
  3. The reunion consists of a weekend retreat that includes room and board and/or camping, making it easier for people to actually visit longer.  Some families actually take trips together.
  4. The event is special enough to prepare memorabilia such as tee shirts generated from a design contest, with committees for selection, selling, and delivery at or before the event?
  5. Families publish a newsletter, either printed and mailed or published online, which includes recent accomplishments, births, deaths, announcements of things to come, etc.

Why not attend and offer your ideas for an improved family reunion.try to change the things you don’t like or change the way you feel about things.  Ask other family members for their help.  There are websites with other suggestions for family reunions, tee shirt design, and tee shirt sales.

The Power of Community

The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital. Mark Hyman

Read more at:…

According to the authors of The Search for Meaning,                                                                  

“Real communities are concerned with being–not having. Their members are into sharing, caring, and loving rather than owning, manipulating, controlling, and possessing. Open communication and commitment to the shared values and common purposes of individual members are of critical importance to the stability of a community. Community survival depends heavily on the ability of members to extend themselves to other members.”

I can best illustrate this by using Gandhi as an example, as told by Gloria Steinem in Revolution From Within. After describing his failed attempts to become an aristocratic Englishman while studying to be a barrister, Steinem states that it was “as if his failures had been the signals of a true self.” Upon receiving his law degree, he returned to India, but life did not go well there. His law activities did not flourish and he took an assignment in South Africa, where he became successful as a lawyer and a negotiator but was mistreated due to his color. Rather than trying to be something he was not, he decided to become the man he was born–an Indian–and dressed in Indian clothing.  Eventually, he eventually returned to India at the age of 44, where he worked for and with his people and later led his country into a peaceful revolution.

We can learn many lessons from Gandhi, and below are just a few. We should approach everything we attempt as a means of

  • Understanding ourselves better.
  • Finding our true self.
  • Learning what to do and what not to do in becoming successful.
  • Being comfortable with who we are.
  • Striving to come out as winners in the sense of having helped others.

Gandhi started out as a “having” person, wanting the education, the power, and the envy of others. He eventually found that being the person he was would create a role never before played that would earn him a place in history.


As shown above, there are all sorts of ways to participate in community activities, regardless of the type.  The important thing to remember is that you are there to serve your community for the good of the community. What are your goals?  Please tell us about your community efforts and the satisfaction you derive from them in the Comments section below.  If you have ideas for a community, ask for help with those.  Working together for common goals can be life changing.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi

5 Replies to “Do You Have a Sense of Community?”
  1. Good Day, Tanya.
    An interesting blog on a very important subject. As you mention, today’s “communities” seem to be shrinking rapidly.
    Often, people feel obligated to attend, come mainly for the lunch, and can’t wait to say … “see you next year”. This is a very compelling niche and one that can greatly benefit the aging population as well as the younger generations.
    Keep up the good work and this will serve to reinforce your message.

  2. Nice and detailed post Tanya! I really like how you put the emphasis on ourselves and talk about community and who we are as a person. It’s certainly something to think about once we get older and age.

    • Thanks very much, Jay. I appreciate your comments and believe you might find it helpful to get involved with community even sooner. Of course, it takes time and is harder to work in when priorities dictate other directions.

  3. This is a very interesting blog on very worthwhile subject. This one of things that i like about small town usa. People that are involved are more caring about one another.

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