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One of the most used words in the aging network is “community”.  We advocate for “home and community-based services” (HCBS) as alternatives to institutional care.  We take part in awareness efforts, Dementia Friendly Communities or Communities for a Lifetime, that promote inclusion or accommodation in civic planning and daily life.  Assisted living facilities and planned retirement communities promote the notion of “community” as an amenity of living there.  But what do we mean by community?

Community is, in part, about place:  where you “live, work, shop and play.”  But it is more than your address or your place of employment. Community is also affinity.  It is lifestyle, faith, hobbies, careers or ethnicities.  Community is a collection of people with something in common.  

But community is also something more.  While we may draw strength and comfort from being among like-minded folk, vibrant communities include a variety of perspectives, experiences, and expertise. They include empathy and engagement with others.

"There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret J. Wheatley

We enter a new year reeling from the effects of the last one. The pandemic, calls for racial justice, a struggling economy, a bitterly divided election season and its aftermath have left people longing for unity. . . longing for “community”.

Which gets me thinking about community, and what is our individual role in community and how can we make it better?  What does it mean to be part of a community? 

Observing stay at home orders and practicing social distancing, wearing masks are all ways we demonstrate our respect for one another.  Voting and engaging in our democracy is participating in a community.  Coming together in support of a cause is engaging in community.  Checking in on loved ones or neighbors when they are isolated creates community.  Volunteering can help support a community. Advocating for those whose voice may not otherwise be heard builds community.  

How do we build community?  It’s pretty simple, really. Listen. Learn. Do. Repeat.

Want to get involved? 

Volunteer. . .
Become a donor. . .
Become a Dementia Friend. . .
  
 Notes:
Dementia Friendly Communities:  https://dementiafriendsusa.org/
Communities for a Lifetime: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/info-2015/domain-8-auburn-hills-michigan-community-center.html