Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going Clubbin'

C'mon people now
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together

I love the Internet. It has provided me with eye opening information, fueled my passion, spurred me on when things seemed too hard, given me an outlet for my hopes and fears, and connected me with "my tribe" - other folks who also care about the environment and living lightly. The Internet is my friend.

I can't share a bottle of local wine with the Internet though. As wonderful as message boards, yahoo groups and blogs are, the conversations are, in a fashion, cramped by the miles of cables that connect us, the fact that we couldn't recognize each other in an empty room, and that few of us even reside in the same state.

To really get conversation flowing and to create a physical support system, we must meet face to face. To inspire real change, we need to do more than eat local and shop local. We need to connect local and not just over the super highway. We need to build a community within our own community.

I speak from experience. Last night, I attended the second meeting of our fledgling Green Book Club, a group of local mothers who meet once a month to discuss ecologically relevant books. This time, we discussed The Omnivore's Dilemma, a blow your mind book about what we eat. I had only met two of the other seven members once before but the conversation quickly flowed. We started talking about the book and then related it to our concerns about our own food sources, shared information on local growers, laughed over the desire by some to have chickens, confessed our first efforts at preserving food, offered to share fruit from our own backyards, bemoaned our generation's tendency to be "umbrella parents", and talked about the benefits of letting our children make mistakes. We built a community.

It was a wonderful thing to look in the faces of other women who live a stone's throw from my house and realize that I am not alone. There are members of my tribe, here, within my own community: other people who care about the same stuff I do, muddle through the same quandaries. I truly enjoyed those two hours and look forward to the next meeting.

I didn't just stumble upon this community however. Normally, I am not the type of person who joins clubs much less starts them. I do love to read though, and I gobble up green books on a weekly basis. Might there be other moms out there with similar interests? Wouldn't it be more fun, educational, insightful, meaningful to discuss those books with them rather than with myself? Starting the club has not required much effort though it did require follow through on my part. I started it with a few simple emails to some local moms groups.

Each of us who cruise the Internet daily can look for ways to build connections in our own community. If the organizations aren't there, we can start them. No one else will. We can start book clubs, edible gardening clubs, neighborhood swaps, carpool groups, habitat restoration organizations, groups that work toward making our own cities greener. The list is as endless as our interests and goals.

Sometimes, we'd all prefer to stay in our own dimly lit, cold homes, typing furiously away on the computer than to venture out into the dark unknown. It's worth it though and it is the only way we'll ever really make a difference. So, get on it! Go clubbin'.


Shannon Hodgins said...

Hi GB, thanks for the stop by. I like your blog too!

I think that you pose a REALLY good idea here. And, you are so right! I've been feeling a little lonesome with my crunchy self and that might be a good idea to gell with some other folks too.

I had great success finding a kicking Writers Group by using I'm going to surf my area and see what I can poke up with too. Shannon

Burbanmom said...

Good for you, GB! You're so brave! I often think about starting this group or that, or volunteering somewhere... but then something (fear?, if so, fear of what?) always stops me before I even take the first step.

Keep posting about it though. Maybe if I hear enough of your success stories, I'll get brave enough to try it too!

CindyW said...

What you are doing is awesome. I just received an alumni mag in which a well known professor said: "In the frenetic information age, the most underrated discovery is people. If we can part with our Blackberries and iPhones for a moment and engage soul to soul with a fellow human being, our outlook can be radically altered, a new level of understanding can be unearthed, and our passions can be set afire." I can't say it any better. Keep it up!

Jennifer said...

So true... and one I am guilty of, as well. As my old college friends disappear from physical contact into far away places, I rely MUCH more on the internet to stay in touch with them... and haven't done as much as I could to reach out to my OWN new community!

arduous said...

You are absolutely right! Kudos to you for making the effort.

Melinda said...

You're totally right. I hadn't really thought about book clubs or other clubs as being community-building activities. I kept thinking that I really needed to get involved in local politics and such, and I've been putting it off because it sounds dull and boring.

But of course connecting in other groups is a way to build community. So, off I go to look for a knitting group (so I can finally learn), or book group, or somethin'.

My Master Gardener connection is also going to be very good at building community as I begin to volunteer, pass on information, teach classes at the library and such.

Green Bean said...

Thank you, gals, for all the kind comments. Honestly, I am not a stick your neck out kind of person - especially when it comes to social situations. I'm glad that I did here and I think this will inspire me to make more efforts. There weren't any green organizations already set up here so, if you cannot join, make your own. Good luck everyone.


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