looking for community essay
From: Joanie Connors (jvcphdgmail.com)
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2011 08:33:06 -0800 (PST)
Hi all,

I'm looking for a general essay on community that is not specifically
focused on cohousing for a class I am teaching this spring. It would
be great if it mentioned cohousing as an option, but it mainly needs
to speak to the principles behind the idea of community - common well
being, mutual service, working together, learning together.

I found the essay below, which is pretty good, but thought someone on
the list might know of something better. Remember, college students
today have grown up without much sense of community, other than the
internet. I need something to intrigue and open minds (tall order!).

Thanks! Joanie from the Silver City EcoCommunity planning group

Community means caring for the common good
By Scott Johnstone • Thursday, November 25, 2010
Burlington Free Press
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20101125/OPINION02/11250312/My-Turn-Community-means-caring-for-the-common-good

What does community mean to you? As we gather for holiday
celebrations, take a moment to reflect on this question. Is it a
gathering of people who live in proximity? Or a place where the
settlement pattern makes a village, a collection of buildings? These
definitions work but fall short — they fail to account for the
incredible quality of life that comes with community and the care of
our common good.
For me, this idea of a body of people working for our common good
works. Our individual stories connect together, as we help support and
care for each other at exactly the right time of need. In my story, I
can't escape the notion of community. I grew up in rural Maine in a
home of great love, but also rampant alcoholism, drug addiction and
other abuses.
Our town didn't have an accredited high school, making college
typically out of reach. Time and again, the extended hand of community
lifted me at exactly the right time -- a place to stay on a
particularly rough night, counseling to cope with the afflictions of
those I loved, teachers breaking college barriers through personal
intervention with the registrar's office. It took hard work but the
difference for me is, I believe, the common good, the community.
Parts of my story may resonate with parts of your story, as an
individual or through your family, at work or through your social
networks. Parts of your story would resonate with me, too. This
commonality is how our willingness to help each other builds and grows
through our lives. Here in Chittenden County it is part of the culture
and makes for a great place to live, to raise a family, to engage.
Beyond caring individuals we need strong services and organizing
functions to create community. We have United Way and an amazing array
of United Way agencies creating this social network of care and
services. I am thankful every day for the organizations and the people
who work there, ready to help at exactly the right time.
This is a tremendous basic social network, but for our collective
story, for our community, it is not enough. Problems exist here, like
everywhere, that no one agency can tackle; problems requiring
partnerships of different types with business and schools, with you
and me. Projects like the Burlington Truancy Project, Working Bridges,
and the Child Care Food Project are examples.
In our community 1 in 8 preschool children are food insecure.
Thousands of children need to get as much as half of their nutrition
at preschool or they will be hungry. There are federal dollars
available to make progress on this challenge; our state and community
have not been effective in attracting the dollars. So, United Way
convened partners from all sectors, attracted additional funding and
to date 81,000 additional meals have been provided to preschoolers in
our community.

This great social fabric takes talents, partnership and funding. This
year our Community Campaign for United Way set a fundraising goal of
$4.1 million dollars -- a bold undertaking in this economy and
potentially the most we've ever raised. Yet, the needs of our
community have never been higher. I ask you to join me in helping our
community take a step forward.
Give: Give toward this community goal through your workplace campaign
or with an individual gift at www.unitedwaycc.org.
Advocate: Raise your voice, advocate in and for our community.
Volunteer: Volunteer through UWCC Volunteer Center www.unitedwaycc .org.
Give, advocate, and volunteer is what United Way calls Living United
and what it means to be part of a community. Each of us helping the
other, improving our own sense of self, and our commitment to the
common good. As we do this together, our stories will merge and each
of us will find the help we need, just when we need it. We'll continue
to hold on to our community -- something truly to be thankful for.
Scott Johnstone is the executive director of the Vermont Energy
Investment Corp. and is the 2010 United Way Community Campaign
chairman.

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