Creating a sense of community

In her final blog post, Ruth Lera writes about the bonds she and her family form with their neighbours in the Yukon.

By Ruth Lera
Creating a sense of community

This weekend I have been feeling particularly filled with gratitude. You see, a local dog musher asked our family to help take care of his dogs while he went away for the weekend. Each morning after breakfast we have dutifully headed over to his dog yard and mixed up some slushy dog food goop and ladled four scoops each for the dogs. This small, yet significant experience has me feeling grateful to be part of a community.

I didn’t have this experience of community growing up in downtown Toronto. I had neighbours as a kid and friendly neighbours at that. I played outside with the neighbourhood kids on warm summer nights, riding our bikes and skateboards up and down the dead end in the middle of the block. There was an aspect of being acquaintances with these neighbours and friendliness abounded but it wasn’t community. We didn’t help each other out in our gardens, play music together, eat meals together or depend on each other when times were tough. Here, living in the Hamlet of Mt. Lorne, 40km south of Whitehorse, Yukon, I get to do all these things with the other people who live in the Hamlet and this is what I think makes a community.

One of the fascinating things about living in Yukon is that most of us live far from our biological families and it is amazing how that changes our relationship with each other. Neighbours call me when they have pneumonia and need that emergency ride to the hospital and I feel grateful that I get to be there for them. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays are spent with friends in cozy homes with woodstoves burning bright as we potluck-meal our way through housewarmings, anniversaries and solstices parties alike.

My children have no biological cousins but when we go to our local community centre for volunteer work days and evening music events they romp with a group of children, many they have known since birth. The adults at the events mostly know my children by name and care about how they are and what they are interested in. These are friends who live physically near where I live and who I care about, too. This caring gets to grow by being more then acquaintances — by being people who rely on each other, and this I think is what makes community and my children are absorbing this concept just by living it everyday.

Caring about people who live near you is definitely not a trait that is confined to remote rural locations. Neither is growing your own food or finding ways in which to un-school your life even if your kids go to school everyday. In a world that becomes increasingly technological, where can we each find those places to connect? Connect with each other on a human level. Connect with our children through unstructured time to be together. Connect with nature through walks in the forest or time spent in the garden. Connect with ourselves through life-nurturing introspective and quiet reflection.

I’d like to thank you all for allowing me to connect with you through these series of blog posts. To keep reading my reflections check me out here.

This article was originally published on May 30, 2012

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