We all belong to many communities throughout our lives but seldom pause to think about it…communities are basically the coming together of a group of people to create social interaction and share common values… which can promote fun, education, a sense of belonging, and many other things. And the bonus of loyalty…
As I was writing this article for the August newsletter, I noticed an older man looking through the front windows of Paperjam at the local artists cards we have hanging. I went up to him and said hello and we started to talk. I found out that he is a retired art professor living in Portland who taught at the University of the Arts in Philadephia for years. I invited him into Paperjam to discuss his art and the possibilities of doing greeting cards. We conversed and shared for about ½ hour and found our shared values for the love of art. We made a new friend — this is the essence of building community. The act of engaging and building relationships.
Communities are so entrenched in our culture that you probably don’t even think of them as being communities — one community that is happening right now in the world is the Olympics community — how many of you feel a part of this community? Most of us are engaged with online communities such as Facebook and Twitter. What about your neighborhood? One chooses to live in a certain neighborhood based on certain things such as schools, style of homes, location, culture — all these reasons give you a shared value with the rest of your neighbors. And they create a community. What about the work place? If you work for Nike, for example, you have entered a community that literally takes care of many of your needs while at work–fitness, childcare, food, etc. And there are communities around religion and spirituality, favorite sport teams, professional organizations, hobbies, charities, sports, interests, and on and on…if we made a list of all the communities in the world we could come up with thousands!!!
Here are some examples of the combination of interest and charity communities that touch our lives here in Portland formed around common values and shared purpose.
Friends of Family Farmers — FOFF — this is our featured customer this month! This community is a nonprofit creating a voice for Oregon’s independent family farmers, food advocates, and concerned citizens who are concerned about food and where it is grown. Do you want to join their community? Contact them via their website at friendsoffamilyfarmers.org
Schoolhouse Supplies — this community is a nonprofit founded in 1999 as a way to support students and teachers throughout Portland Public Schools. They operate Oregon’s first and only volunteer-run Free Store to provide teachers with the classroom supplies needed to encourage the learning process for all students. They are currently running their annual campaign called the KGW School Supply Drive which runs August 1 – Labor Day. The goal of the Supply Drive is to collect enough school supplies and cash to send 8,000 students in need back to school with the tools needed to learn and achieve. Paperjam is a supply drive collection site so come by Fremont Fest and drop off your supplies or visit us at Paperjam throughout the month of August. Do you want to join this community? Contact them via their website at schoolhousesupplies.org
The Rural Organizing Project (ROP) is a statewide organization based out of Scappose, Oregon made up of locally-based groups that work to create communities accountable to a standard of human dignity — so they are an organization helping form communities around a shared value and purpose. Do you want to join these communities? Contact them via their website at www.rop.org
So I will leave you with some questions — What communities do you belong to? What is the focus of this community? What is your role in this community? What do you do to create community? Would your life be as fulfilling without communities?