Sunday, November 7, 2010

Community ... The Art Of Networking

Luncheon of the Boating Party
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

At one time, folks all lived in small communities and everyone knew each other. Even in large cities, people lived in specific areas and everyone worked, lived, and socialized within their own community. Everyone knew everyone else, people visited back and forth in each other's homes and there was a real sense of belonging. Even in my small town, I lived in a neighbourhood, and I knew all the people on Latham Road, Beaufort Street, Ian Avenue, Tebo Avenue...  They were my neighbours.  Since the advent of cars and jet planes, people have slowly become more polarized. Friends and even families lose touch with each other. We now come into each other's homes via the telephone or the internet. The more secluded we become in our day-to-day lives, the more isolated we become from each other. Usually the topic of conversation at work is who was booted off "Dancing With the Stars" the night before. Instead of interacting with each other, we are interacting with our TV sets, and we get together with friends less and less frequently. Soon we all become strangers.

The Dinner Party
Jules Grün

Yesterday on her blog Alane told the story of Anna* who was rebuilding her life. She did this by holding a soirée at her home, and inviting all the people -- friends and acquaintances -- she had known. Anna was very shy, and it took a lot of courage for her to do this, but she did it. Few of the people at Anna's soirée knew each other before that evening. Afterwards, however, I think some friendships were made, with Anna being the common denominator.

Le Moulin de la Galette
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

I think about all the friends I have made over the years, since elementary school, and I keep in touch with most of them -- but usually by e-mail. I will often get an e-mail at work from my friend on Vancouver Island, or my friends here in Vancouver will send me e-mails. We chat back and forth, and sometimes we will go for dinner together or to a movie, or some other social event, but we rarely -- if ever -- visit each other's homes. For some reason, our communities have become fractured.  So, with the holiday season coming up, I have decided to host a soirée at my home, and invite all the people I have lost contact with over the past few months and years. Of course, my treehouse is so tiny, folks will have to sit in perches in the trees outside, and hopefully there will be no snow -- but everyone will be well-armed with a warm fireplace and some hot rum.

Staying connected is so important, because in the long run we are social animals, and we need the sense of community that other people provide us.  And yes, you're all invited...


budh.aaah said...

Oh Jo, wish I could come to the warm get together you are inviteing all of us to..

You are so right people interact with their TV sets nowadays instead of one-to-one connect with the real(near and dear)ones. Thank God I dont have a TV at home.

Nicole said...

I remember having family and friends over during the holidays! The house was decorated and we had yummy finger foods and drinks.
My mom used to tell us about her holidays back in the fifties. They would go to one family's house for Christmas brunch, another for Christmas dinner. They made the rounds to all the family homes and at each stop there were goodies and eggnog (spiked with rum!)and good conversation.
How I wish we still had that! Unfortunately, with my mom's passing, my little family is the only family I have in town. We have to travel three hours to have Thanksgiving with my brother and his in-laws.
I hope you have a wonderful get-together! I wish we could all be there!

Amy said...

Jo, You make some excellent points in this post, and I too very much enjoyed Alane's post about Anna.

I think your idea of a soiree is fantastic; I'm tempted to do the same though I don't think we're going to decorate for Christmas. Maybe a New Year's bash with Hoppin' John black eyed peas for good luck!

Wish I could come to yours - it sounds like the gathering will be warm, cozy, friendly, and just plain delightful.

Linda Myers said...

Having just returned from Italy where I spent 17 days with 17 other people in our tour group, I realized that, though I do like to spend some quiet time, I'm not solitary. I have a list of people, friends and family, that I'm planning to get in touch with this week. Do they want to meet for coffee, or dinner, or at all?

Thanks for the reminder, Jo.

The Bug said...

I wish I could be there! That would be so cool. I'll be spending the holidays in NC with our families.

Unknown said...

How wonderful for you to do this. I am sure it will be delightful.

We used to get invited a lot, but somehow after the event of triplets, we get fewer invites. Maybe it is time to throw our own party.


JeannetteLS said...

I do not know where I would be without the face-to-face interactions with the network of friends I've been blessed with through the years. We seem to materialize out of thin air whenever someone needs something, but we also have dinners or lunches or Breakfasts in between. I have the Christmas Eve party. Someone else has Easter... We use any excuse we can find. Even my e-mail contacts and I have taken to be sure to talk on the phone once a month, just to have one another's VOICES in our minds. Thanks you for reminding me of how important these interactions are, and just how fortunate I am.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invite. don't mind me....I would be happy to perch in the tree! It is a good idea though. Hope you will actually do it.

A.M. said...

So true, and my sister and I were just talking about this yesterday. I hope I'm invited :o)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

As a child, I knew everyone in my neighborhood, and their dogs. It's been a long time since I felt a sense of community, partly because I have moved many times as an adult, and partly because people are all too busy with their own lives (and TV's and computers) and have little time for anyone else. It's sad that we live surrounded by others and are yet so isolated.

Katy said...

The one of the things I love about where I live is that it is litterally a small village in the middle of a city. Everyone knows everyone. We see each other at school stuff, church stuff, the super market.

But my baby will be in California with her dad this Chrismas. Puts a new twist on the holiday for me that has become so filled with children's activities. I might take Anna's idea of having some old friends over for dinner!

PhilipH said...

Put an invite on Facebook, Jo. I'm sure you could cope with a few thousand guests ... but be aware that H.M. Queen Liz II is now officially a Facebook member!

You have a red carpet no doubt? Get it ready...

SY said...

This is very true.. If we all made the effort to keep in touch, we would experiences the rewards of having close relationships and maybe brings others together as well. Great post..

Dianne Montgomery Hocut said...

I love to entertain at home, however I find a lot of invitees are unwilling to commit. What's their problem?? Thank you for the wonderful post...and I shall keep on entertaining with the wonderful friends who do come!! DianneHocut

Cloudia said...

Great points/post. But don't forget that we also can now be friends all over the world through the web!

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral



Cloudia said...

Great points/post. But don't forget that we also can now be friends all over the world through the web!

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral



Indian Pundit said...

"At one time, folks all lived in small communities and everyone knew each other"

"Everyone knew everyone else, people visited back and forth in each other's homes and there was a real sense of belonging."

That kind of "small communities" are still alive. All you need to do is travel in the rural areas of countries like India , China , latin America etc.

Even in Indian cities you can find that sort of bonding (somewhat disappearing these days)...

For example , if i want i can walk into ANY of my friends' house unannounced and have a is considered a perfectly normal behaviour according to Indian culture..which westerners wont really appreciate.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

Wonderful post. This is something I have been mulling around around in my head. I thought I might start a 'Girl's night in', my husband work a couple of nights a week and I am disabled so it is hard for me to get out and I miss socializing with my friends. I am thankful for the internet and the friends I have on it, b ut there is no substitute for personal contact. Wish I could join you in your tree house. I was so impressed with this post that I posted it on my facebook page, maybe some of my friends will also be touched by your thoughts. Thanks for sharing

Land of shimp said...

Hello Jo :-) I'm so glad you enjoyed the story about Anna. You'll like one of the things that happened at that get together, so I'll tell you about it:

Anna (as you know, not her real name) had invited all of the ladies of the neighborhood this time, and a group of about fifteen women sat together, talking, drinking wine (or in my case, ice tea as wine tends to give me a headache), surrounded by enough food that the phrase "groaning table" seemed particularly apropos.

A good time was had by all, and at one point Anna announced, "One of the reasons I thought it would be a good idea to get everyone together was to see if you all wanted to have a Christmas Party."

There were enthusiastic murmurs of assent, but not just of the polite variety, of the "What a marvelous idea!" variety.

I guess it just takes one person to get that ball rolling, and it gathers momentum. The funniest thing about all of this is that Anna really was just opening the doors. She provided the place, glasses, disposable plates, etc. and we all trouped in with food.

The sense of community isn't gone :-) It's out there, waiting for someone to wake it from a protracted nap.

I wish I could come to your party, Jo. I think we, people, even as we sit and interact with our TVs and computers are perhaps waiting for someone to ring our doorbells, and get the ball rolling. :-)

By the way, my absolute best wishes to your daughter as she goes forth in the world and I'm glad she does so knowing that she is loved by you.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hello, dearest Jo! Just stopping by to say "hello!" and to stay in touch :-)) And what an appropriate post to find!!! Wonderful! Yes! People are the most important thing!!! I love this!! And wish I could attend your soiree!! Love you! Janine XO