Monday, November 10
Conscious and active community participation is something i've grown into. years ago i came across a concept, cant remember whose, that referred to lifes stages in terms of 3 unconscious desires for lifes purpose; first in adult life comes the focus on friends and work, then family and nurturing becomes significant, and then when you have achieved these precursor life stages, volunteering and community becomes important; its a life cycle of process and it made sense to me.
Community building as a modern social concept has been around a while; the hippies made community consciousness popular and permaculture and bio-dynamic principles refer to connectivity and networks as a fundamental paradigm for health and diversity. and i read many blogs, especially green blogs, that significantly refer to community building and ways to enhace or participate in it. As a public health professional, community building has been a part of my vocabulary for a long time; it forms a significant philosophy underneath which the development and implementation of any program or action of public health is achieved. Structural and policy support for community is recognised as one of the most fundamental ways to achieve health for all. By ensuring that the organisations which exist in our communities work well together, are structured in ways which promote ease of movement and participation between and within community groups and organisations and the public that use them, social capital is built and strengthened and is one sign of a healthy society. Community exists on many levels but what is always difficult is getting people to take ownership of their communities, to really participate. Blog land has given me hope as i read about peoples growing interest in community building and its necessity in a uncertain world.
Building community means different things to different people; supporting local producers by purchasing their goods, volunteering at the co-op, participating and council working bees. We are all involved in our local community theatre. the kids belong to the local youth theatre, performing in many annual youth productions, Si is President and i do lighting for productions when Im needed and work the bar at intervals during show time. I get to meet heaps of local people and its actually way more fun than i would have imagined. Ive not always been very good at community participation, i've had to work at it. My mum was a bit of a loner and as a kid she didnt really encourage or foster my participation, certainly not in theatre; god forbid ...you might develop self esteem or worse, a healthy ego! The sense of community is something i only realised i'd missed, that sense of belonging, when i started doing it. Often our workplaces are so outcome focussed that the social becomes superficial or worse, obligatory.
The great thing about the theatre is its gives kids a place; its not all about acting, other outlets are possible, stage management, make-up and costume. What has surprised me is the quality of community productions and every time i go along to senior productions the strength of performance always shocks. The girls really love live theatre, especially musicals (the more tragic the better; they know every verse in Annie) Yesterday the kids happily took themselves of to the Hills Players latest production, a thriller, and came home raving. It made me so happy to see them wander off in anticipation to see a live, local production under their own steam. If you have a community theatre, next production, give it a go. You may enjoy it and you'll be supporting a local, creative enterprise and building strength and creativity in your community. Whats your favourite action that builds community? I'd love some ideas.