With and Within
We are finding ourselves–every time we’re holding hands through the farmer’s markets, receiving deliveries from a CSA, peering over fences into gardens pocketed throughout neighborhoods and alleyways, dreaming skate parks of forgotten tennis courts, and artist studios of forsaken warehouses–longing to venture further inward. Community is about shared identity; it is about those facets of our society that are common and inclusive. It transcends boundaries. It requires open minds, great courage, individual expression, action, and repères.
Repères are our points of reference, translated from French, we get an English equivalent in the idea of a cultural totem. These elements of our environment that influence and shape our perspectives about the urban scape, are profoundly valuable for us as individuals and collectively.
In Richmond, we celebrate the James, we celebrate an incredibly rich vernacular architecture, we celebrate the train culture, skate culture, urban culture, high art, public murals, performing arts, niche restaurants and the incomparable food culture that follows. As we each experience these objects and spaces, we develop commonalities that draw us together from within. We embrace those things for their singular influence on us within the context of our community and this can shape our ideas for good. How we feel about our sense of belonging and our sense of place empowers us to take risks and develops our propensity toward patterns of reciprocity, giving rise to new positive elements that draw us together.
Conversely, the big boxes of the ‘burbs hold very little for our communities, drawing us away from one another into a dense fog of homogeneity. There is nothing to stake a claim on within the context of such fabricated environs. We lose ourselves in the aisles as we are lured into identifying with towers of brands and products.
We’re at war for the truth of humanity; we need community to thrive, we need to feel a part of something greater than ourselves, we need to contribute to a greater purpose. Everyone needs to have a common and vested interest in being a part of serving and partaking, which is only a beginning.