Living in Community

I have just received an article from another Janet (McKinney) from Canberra and would love to share it with you. If you are new to the site, welcome... I encourage you to read the "Welcome" and the "How to Make a Comment" articles below before you post a response. A reminder too that if you want to return to the main page, all you have to do is click on the "Secret Women's Business" heading at the top. Happy commenting!

Living in Community

Driving to work in my new work clothes a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking –"Gee I love living in community".  What!  You don't see the connection.  OK then, I will explain.

 I am now 4 dress sizes smaller than I was 12 months ago thanks to a gastric band, and some serious attention to diet and exercise.  I love the changes that are happening, but it poses a problem with clothes.  It is rather expensive to replace an entire wardrobe of clothes, and more so when you realise that next winter I will have to replace it all again.

 There is a community of "bandits" here in Canberra, and we understand each other's predicament, and share our clothes, which to be frank are just too big for us now.  I had never met these girls nine months ago, and now we swap wardrobes.  To me, that is community.

I started to think about my other experiences of community.  I remember the community of family in my childhood.  My grandmother had more than 25 grandchildren, and so when the family met together it was a fabulous sense of love and belonging. 

 Later on I went to "the big city" for University where I experienced being in a community of my peers for the first time. I am sure those of you who have had the Uni experience remember the sense of community that develops there.

 On graduating, I lived in remote indigenous communities for five years.  Now that was an experience of a different kind. There was a close sense of community among the non-indigenous workers.  You became friends with people you would probably have never met in any other environment. 

 There was also the experience of living amongst, but not in a community of another culture.  For some this was a frightening and overwhelming experience.  For others there was an incredible sense of acceptance despite difference which changes your life.

 I spent eight years living in Southland, New Zealand.  Now our cousins over the Tasman have much in common with us (mostly because they live here!), but it was quite a culture shock to adapt to living in another country.  The biggest challenge was living amongst the "in-law" community where norms were different, and I had to adjust to a different set of expectations.

 I met my husband on an on-line community ten years ago which was note-worthily unusual at that time.  I managed to drag him away from the Nation's Capital and live in Queensland for nine years, but we just had to return to Canberra eventually.

 I have lived in smaller communities all my life, and living in a Capital City held little attraction to me.   Who wanted to live in a place that you only saw strangers when you went shopping, where you had to travel miles to see people you knew, and you never got to know the man who worked on your car? 

 Well, that is what I love about living in Gungahlin.  My local pharmacist knows my name and the fruit and vege shop owners say hello when I call in to get some bananas.  I see people I know when I walk down the street and I can drop into my local Doctor's surgery once a week to check on my weight loss.

So what does living in community mean to you?  What makes living where you live a place where you belong?  Tell us about your experiences of community.


Janet Woodlock said…
I love the fact at my local supermarket (IGA) I almost invariably run into someone I know from the local church or the local school. I do think the tendency to's transfering interstate, moving house regularly, changing jobs frequently to climb the corporate ladder, moving to a WAY outer suburb to get a bigger home (do houses really need to be that big? Families of 12 used to live in 3 bedroom houses once!)... break down this sense of "ordinary community" that can build when you dig roots into a place over time.

But I am SUCH as stick in the mud!
Janet said…
Oh no you are not... I look at the HUGE houses that are being built in Canberra in the new suburbs. I wonder what smaller families are going to do with such huge houses. More than anything - think of the housework involved!!

Janet McKinney
Janet Woodlock said…
Mmm... that's another interesting question in itself... how did a family of 4 get the idea it really needs a 50 square home? It's not only time spent vacuuming etc... it's also the cost of heating and cooling such a massive structure (not to mention the environmental impacts... )

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who feels they can comment on this trend, because I just don't get it.

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