Your Opinion on Community

In Minnesota we joke about only have two seasons, winter and __________ (mosquitoes, road construction, other). In terms of our community it is winter and the time when you see your neighbors again. I just ran into my neighbor at the YMCA and suggested that maybe it is time to start planning another block party.

Our neighborhood is in a growing micropolitan in central Minnesota where two smaller towns have grown together and meshed into a larger community. We also have an influx of seasonal residence in the spring and summer that add to our size. The local newspaper just completed a five-part series on a social capital survey in our community. It defines social capital as

human connections that make for healthier people, neighborhoods and society. Those connections or relationships are considered part of what generates a sense of belonging . . . Research indicates communities rich in social capital tend to have desirable attributes—higher achievements in education, better performance in government, faster economic growth and less crime and violence.

We moved to this community eight years ago today. One neighbor showed up on our doorstep within hours of our arrival with pasties and gardening advice (the garden can’t go in for two more months). Her welcome certainly went a long way in helping us feel a sense of belonging. We have since learned that to belong we have to make an active effort. We have made small and large contributions. One of those contributions is that my husband started a business here. His business partner recently wrote about this community survey and what it means for someone who has moved from outside the area to build a business here.

What helps you feel that you belong to a community? (You may choose more than one answer)

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1 Comment

  1. Sarah
    Mar 28, 2008

    Great posts! I definitely think getting involved in our local church has made the biggest difference in feeling a part of the community but putting our kids in the local school was the second. When we first moved here, we had our kids in private school 45 minutes away for 3 years. Just this year we enrolled them 5 minutes away in a charter school and I love running into the librarian assistant in our neighborhood, taking kids on playdates 5 minutes from here instead of 45 min. What a difference! It has been great.

    Starting a business is definitely huge in getting to know the community. That’s awesome.

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