I am as guilty as anyone else. I love the idea of “community” and love living in a small town, but do I really contribute to the feeling of “community”? To me, the term is not geographical, but emotional —and can be, at its best (pardon the sentiment) “like a big hug”. Author, Ferenc Matte reminded me of the importance of “community”, in his book, “The Wisdom of Tuscany”. Fortunately, we do not have to travel so far afield to attain the close-knit feeling of belonging.
At its core community has the word commune, which in essence means connect. I do not think I do enough to “connect” to my neighbours, or to the community at large. Matte makes the point that:
“If we all love such small towns—and surveys say that seven out of ten of us would live there if we could—why then are they ever more difficult to find? The demand is there, so where is the supply? When all it takes is a few good-natured people—a couple to teach school, a few to run the stores, some to farm the land, some to mend the sick and a bar to tend the healthy—then why isn’t there such a town behind every tree?” He ends his tiny diatribe by saying “How did it happen that things no one wants are burying us all, while the simple town we dream of we can seldom find.”
Matte, of course simplifies what a small town is all about, but he has a point. If we want a sense of community, then we should strive to achieve that goal. He mourns the loss of neighbourhood saying that its death “snuck up on us slowly”, with a little “thoughtlessness here, a tiny neglect there, a bit too much ambition, a little too much greed.” He misses Granny on the front porch reminding us of “simpler times, better days.”
About a week and a half ago, I attended an event which felt a bit like a “big hug”. I was there, not as a reporter, but someone enjoying an evening of books, wine, music, and food. It was called En Vino Novellus, which translated means “in wine there are stories”. It featured four local authors, some local musicians, wine paired to the books that were featured by a local sommelier, and an appetizer presented by a local butcher shop. Note the word local—they were all a part of our community, and came together to present an evening enjoyed by an overflowing crowd of like-minded people.
My husband said that the evening personified what community is all about. He said that he wants to live in a place that can provide wonderful cultural events. Events that the community can get behind.