The social fabric of our culture is more worn than we realize. Cultural and demographic shifts have altered our experience(s) of belonging, relatedness – community. Some basic assumptions of the nature of our shared lives have been frayed and torn. As we attempt to create a sense of belonging with online avatars and tribal longings, neighborhood spaces that are unpretentious, safe, welcoming, and available have become rarer and rarer. We as members, notice this absence and try to communicate with our communities and community leaders the dreams and desires for transforming our neighborhoods. But, we are faced with limited resources, experience, and the tools that are needed for creating and developing neighborhood places.
When welcoming communal space is not present in a community, friends, families, and neighbors must find those places to connect outside the neighborhood. The cost and consequence of this experience is real, manifesting in the time and expense to travel and the resulting loss of local connection. The impact is more than economic for communities and the ones who live there, it also leaves behind a vacuum of lost vibrancy and vitality. The consequence of the absence places that promote personal well-being, renewal, and feelings of belonging is isolation and disconnection.
This lack of meaningful space is endemic to our communities. The issues are shared across our society’s economic and educational strata as well as the neighborhoods and communities in which they live.
The biggest problem for most groups is the near constant search for shareable space. There may be organizations with buildings with available spaces, but those are only available at specific times and there are no options for shared communications with other groups that are using that facility. Again, that creates a silo effect where groups or members of groups are not aware of other groups or group members with shared concerns or needs.