I believe that community building is one of the most important elements of sustainable living. There are a number of reasons for it: when we live locally and strengthen our communities, we become stronger and better able to adapt to changes in the economy, climate, and energy availability.
When we become a part of our communities, we have a better capacity for creating change within it: making people aware of important issues and ideas, sharing resources, learning from one another, change local policies, working together to solve problems, and feeling useful, helpful, and a part of a greater good.
Each community is unique and has its own needs, whether it is public transportation, sustainable food resources, strengthening local businesses, reducing carbon emissions, increasing recycling and reducing waste, building community gardens and parks… the list is varied and lengthy. We can only learn and become part of the solutions if we become an active member of our communities.
So this weekend, I want to challenge each and every one of us to do this: all you have to do is say hello to five strangers. That’s it!
Because in the last several decades we have grown cold and disparate as a culture. We don’t say hello to strangers anymore, we don’t participate in local events as much anymore, our children don’t play out in the streets together anymore, we hesitate to help one another because we don’t have time anymore.
But have you walked down the street lately, and had a stranger say hello? It feels good and brings you two people together for a moment.
Generally that feeling lasts a few seconds, maybe a few minutes, occasionally a few hours or if it’s really special, the whole day. The next thing you know, you are spreading that feeling of closeness to others – maybe you say hello to someone too! And that person may then stop into a local store and find themselves chatting with a local shop owner. And the shop owner, feeling close to his customers, may find a way to give back to the community in some way. And those who are touched by the shop owner’s giving back are more likely to give time, help, or conversations to someone else.
Your simple “hello” has changed the dynamic of the neighborhood, creating a positive cycle where more and more people become closer to one another.
It takes time, but it also starts somewhere. So let’s start somewhere simple. This weekend, let’s each of us come out of our shells and Say Hello To Five Strangers.
Will You Do It??!
I’m going to do it too, and we’ll all check in on Monday Tuesday* and see how we’ve done. Shall we? Let me know in the comments! Come on, you can do it – I know it!
(*Y’all get an extra day to say your hellos!)