My love of community life was modeled well for me by my mom! We knew every neighbor on our small town block and served every person on the street as needs arose. We delivered food, mowed yards and invited our neighbors over for every holiday celebration. Mom made enjoying neighborhood community a core value in our home, especially during the summer months when we could sit outside, share stories and banter over politics.
I have been studying both community and education development in America. And, this statement somewhat shocked me , "Our educational system teaches self-sufficiency and independence, not community and interdependence."(1) Is that true; and, if so, how did that happen? Has community now lost it's value in America? And, as our culture moves forward, will the value of geographic community be totally abandoned for "destination, or drive-to community"? It seems most of this U.S. change has to do with resources, opportunity and transportation. Our American culture now values moving and traveling more than staying and developing roots in a town or community. I'm not saying that it is all bad; but, it does totally change our value system around community life. Another statement from my research also hit me: "Capitalism tells us that the self is all-important, because it wants us to be isolated consumers, each making his or her own decisions, without being accountable to one another."(1). Hmm... that's a loaded statement. If it is true, how do we then balance capitalism's self-centered, consumer orientation? Lots of questions here... any thoughts out there?
I close by saying I am happy to be back in Chicago, where neighborhood and community events are highly valued, especially during the summer months. I look forward to sitting out in my front yard, chatting with neighbors, and planning our annual summer block party, which is the summer highlight for our neighborhood kids... So, thanks mom! I value and look forward to this summer season so much because of how you modeled the joy of neighborhood community life back in good 'ole Paxton, Illinois!
(1)The Power of Relational Action by Edward T. Chambers, p.7.