Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Sense of Community

WARNING: No Pioneers Found in This Installment.

A couple of posts ago I discussed how the Providence Sauerkraut Dinner did, or did not, help to create a sense of community. I think we often use food as a vehicle for creating community. At the Episcopal church in Ogden, they use coffee before the service to do this, and then of course the service itself with the wafer and the wine is designed to bind the community together (with a communal cup).

Last night was Halloween. Last year for Halloween we took the kids trick or treating. Some in the neighborhood wanted to do the "Trunk or Treat" at the church. Both were employed last year, and the neighborhood swarmed with ghosts and gremlins. This year, it seems the emphasis was placed on the Trunk or Treat. Very few ghosts or gremlins were to be found out and about. At the Trunk or Treat, food (sweets) are dished out in large quantities, in the most efficient manner, but there is no social interaction.

We seem to be seeing a shift in how we organize our social spaces and interactions. It seems we don't visit each other like we once did. The home is being fortified more and more as a private space which excludes neighbors and passing strangers. We seem to prefer congregating in a common public place, then retreating to the safety of our homes, instead of welcoming friends into our homes.

This is a little disturbing to me.


Jen said...

Agreed. Do you think technology is to blame? One of my friends recently wrote a status update on facebook that read, "does anyone have 1 cup of pumpkin I can use?" Instead of calling around, she used facebook to communicate her need for 1 cup of pumpkin. It's interesting. I find myself doing similar things. I would rather use email than talk to someone on the phone. Also, it is through my blog I interact with my friends...rarely in person do we talk and share our stories. It's kind of sad if you think about it.

Brock said...

Yes, I do think technology has a lot to do with it. As an example, back in the day (say, Utah 1850s) people would come together for threshing wheat or shucking corn. But after threshing machines came into use, there was no need for a coming together. Combine harvesters worsened the problem.

Same thing with computers. The idea was that computers would allows us to work more effectively and efficiently, saving so much time. But what do we do with that time? We surf blogs. Instead of using time savings to make our relationships more meaningful, we use the time savings in ways that isolate us even further.

Scarehaircare said...

Mr. Wonderful and I have talked about this very thing. We came up with our own small solution: Once a month we host dinner at our house. Sometimes it is with just three other couples (our formal dining seats 8), sometimes it is up to 8 couples. If the guests offer to bring something, I am thrilled. Each time it is with different people, either in our ward or those around our neighborhood. It certainly has been a way to get to know people.

Our other attempt at getting to know our neighbors better is to have an open house to watch BYU or our local university football team play. We've had from just one family to an insane houseful of rabid fans.

Has it been convenient? Absolutely not. But we have gotten to know our neighbors better.

BTW, I got the idea from another fab blog:

Brock said...

There's this thing some people do called "soup night" where someone hosts a dinner, and the entree is soup. All sorts of people are invited, none having a common connection. People bring whatever they want to contribute by way of drinks, bread, etc. and the host makes a big pot of soup. Eventually the group turns into an organic entity of its own. I'd like to try this.