Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sense of community comes twice in one week

This past week there have been two events that I always seem to enjoy for the sense of community that comes from them. I'm active in my community. I am in some community organizations/service clubs and know a lot of people through my roles there. I also support other groups and clubs and attend and participate in fundraisers and events when I can. I can hardly go to the grocery store or library or post office and not see someone I know or recognize. And I really like it that way. I like to see familiar faces. I like to chat with people. I like it when it feels like "Cheers" where everyone seems to know you.

But, like I said, I participate, I volunteer, I mingle. Without a bit of effort it doesn't feel that way. I don't live in a small town. I live in a large suburb. And one where people move in and out all the time. And where people are often in and out of their houses from their garage facing the alley and you never see them or talk to them. Neighborhoods are like that these days. It's not like Mayberry anymore.

However, there are two days of the year where I get that feeling without the effort. One is Halloween. While I love that it's a fun day with the kids and a memory they'll have for a lifetime of what they dressed up like that year, I love that it is a day that brings people out of their homes and when you talk to neighbors and smile and greet people you only see once a year. It's a day when that sense of community is restored. It feels good to see so many people out and about walking around the neighborhood on sidewalks that are often quiet and empty.

The other day that restores that good community feeling is Election Day. There have been many election days, especially local ones, where the polling places were quiet and voter turnout was poor and I was left feeling pessimistic about my community. I definitely see more people on Halloween than at the polls. But for most elections, and especially the presidential elections, there is usually a small crowd and I see people in my neighborhood I've never seen before. I see young and old. I see women and men. I see seniors and young moms walking hand in hand with their little ones. And we're all there for a common purpose. And I don't really wonder who they're going to vote for in the booth, I am simply happy to see that they are participating just like the rest of us. I got teary in line yesterday as a veteran went up to get his ballot and he was thanked by the election judge for his service to our country and for being someone that secures that right to vote for us. And I was so glad to be there at that moment, being part of the process and part of the community.

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