There has been a lot of talk lately about what community is. My son’s Canadian Oxford dictionary defines community as “all the people living in a specific locality; a small incorporated municipality; a body of people having interests in common; and joint ownership or liability.” In fact, the way in which my son received his dictionary is, I believe, a big part of community.
Matt was given a dictionary by the Rotary club. Three years earlier my daughter Shelby received one in the same way. For many years, the Princeton Rotary club has handed out dictionaries to all the Grade 4 students in Princeton. The club does it to give the youth an extra tool for learning.
There are other ways in which our community shines. Spring clean-ups usually have a good turn out. People of all ages come to pick up other people’s garbage. Those who throw the garbage out there are not community.
It is like the people who vandalize. When they smash a business shop’s window or carve up a picnic table, they are nowhere near what community is.
What I really like is watching what happens when a few good people come together to create positive change. It’s fun going out to where the Erris Fire Hall will one day be in the not too distant future. The group out the Princeton Summerland Road will reach their goal because none of them want their neighbour’s house to burn to the ground without at least trying for change.
I wrote about the donations that went out to Eastgate during the rehabilitation of their river’s edge to save the community from flooding. The donations were not just local either, but far reaching. The same when Eastgate’s First Response Fire Truck was stolen. Those people know what community is.
When Missezula Lake and Tulameen were given a fire guard last year, I could see the real benefits for those communities. We all know someone in the rural areas. These people are our friends, coworkers, family and faces of the businesses we go to. Identifying a problem and a solution must be followed up with community-minded people.
A man saw a woman slumped over her steering wheel last week in Vancouver and decided to try and save her life. He was not thinking about himself – that man knows about community. Having been and seen does not make you community. You must go outside yourself to know. There are those who try to tear that feeling away from others with propaganda and innuendo. Community is a funny thing. You can live in one without ever becoming a part it. Living somewhere does not make you a true community member. A true community member thinks of others.