What does it mean to be "the village” — to not just long for connection with other people but to actually show up and build those kinds of relationships and, along the way, create community for yourself and other people?
Here’s what it means to me.
It means investing the time needed to truly get to know another person: to establish intimacy and build trust.
It means looking for opportunities to make life better for that person in some small way, like passing along a message of encouragement on a day when that person’s encouragement stores are running low.
It means being open about my own struggles and my own hunger for community. When I am brave enough to open up about what I want and need, I encourage other people to do the same.
It means daring to make the first move when it comes to establishing a connection with another person. At a community event that I hosted in Fredericton, New Brunswick, last month, participants talked about how much courage it takes to approach someone you don’t know to say, “Hey, do you want to be my friend?” The thing is…most of the people in the room were feeling the exact same thing. They were all afraid to make the first move and they were all desperately craving friendship and community. We concluded that some sort of “speed dating for friends” event was desperately needed to help people make these kinds of connections. (I don’t know about you, but I’d be all over that kind of an event.)
I think we need to talk about this more — why so many people are feeling so lonely and so isolated and what practical things we can do to rebuild "the village" in our communities. This is something I’m going to be talking about all summer long. I hope you’ll follow along and join the conversation, too, by sharing some of your own experiences in not just finding but being the village.
This post was originally published in The Villager, Ann’s free twice-monthly newsletter about building community and finding common ground in a rapidly changing world. You can read back issues of the newsletter here and sign up for a subscription at the same time.