There is a lot of buzz going around about sustainability, and my town is jumping on the bandwagon. Yesterday, I hosted a brunch for a group of people interested in this topic and it was really fun. I met several people I didn't know previously, and got a little more insight into the web of connections in my small town. One woman was a school board trustee who is heading up a committee for sustainability in the school district. Another volunteers at the Terrace 2050 group, which is starting a "visioning" process for our town's next 40 years. A third runs several food programs around town to bring healthy snacks to the schools and to provide food for low-income families, among other things. A fourth is studying for a Masters in Environmental Education degree.
I felt surrounded by interesting, enthusiastic people - buoyed up by them, even. Just getting together and talking with like-minded people can really spark ideas and energy for knew projects.
But even more than that, I enjoyed a sense of community yesterday that went beyond the normal confines of a "meeting". It was the sum total of all the parts of the day; not just the interesting conversation, but the children from all our families running around and playing together out in the back yard. Food on the table and people scribbling ideas on bits of paper. Conversations extended over washing up the dishes and pulling on shoes on the way out the door.
I think we need these gatherings, the kind where business is conducted, but so is "getting to know you". Meetings in which it's okay to bring the kids and laugh and chat, as well as covering the agenda. That's what really builds community.