Here’s a topic: The sense of community among Americans in 2010. Discuss.

I am currently 31 and living with my parents.  I said it.  When you start a nonprofit in the worst economy of your lifetime, you have to make decisions.  Now, luckily for me, living with my parents is awesome.  I might never leave.  (Just kidding Jude and Paul.  I’ll leave.)

I realize that most of you are much more interested in the day-in-the-life of a volunteer in Nepal than in the day-in-the-life of a 31 year old in New Castle, DE but tough.  It’s my blog.  I get up at 6a every morning with my dad.  We do a 4 mile walk along the Delaware River and return home around 7:30a.  I shower, drink coffee, and work until the evening.  My office is the third floor of their house which overlooks the water.  Then, my mom usually pokes her head up around 6p, with a glass of wine in hand for her and me, to see if I want to have a cocktail on our deck.  We cook dinner, watch a little TV, and I go to bed around 9p.  Life is hard.

In the year that I’ve lived at home, between trips to Asia, I’ve gotten to know the community of New Castle rather quickly.  It came as a bit of a shock after spending 4 years at Cornell where people literally walk with their heads down, in a book, or attached to a phone.  To be followed by a decade of Boston, the land of ice.  I didn’t know who my neighbors were, even though we shared walls, let alone say hello to them.  I was starting to think that community in this country was dead until I came home.

This morning, within our first five minutes of walking, my dad and I came across Jim, a retired local.  We chatted about BP, fisherman, and Obama.  Then, we walked for a while and came across Bert, a woman in her 80s who walks 4 miles every single day.  Last week she was attacked by a stray cat on the path.  Since Monday, I have seen at least 3 different people each morning stopped on their walk to check-in on her.  I have heard multiple pieces of conversations about doctors, rabies shots, and bandaging.  But, Bert doesn’t seem bothered by the interest.  After Bert, we pass Richard, a very religious and fast walker.  He always hands out high fives, shouts that God has blessed the day, and leaves us in the dust with smiles on our faces.  Towards the end of the walk, we visit with Carl and Frannie.  These two are cute as pie in their 80s, have been friends for their entire life, and love to jab at each other while recounting stories of their youth.  I love hearing their history lessons and learning from the strength of their bond.

I always return home from Nepal in awe of the sense of community in the villages.  People genuinely care about each other and their lives are intertwined.  I do think, after living in different parts of the U.S., that we have a huge area of opportunity in regards to our definition of community.  But, after living in New Castle, it’s evident to me that parts of our wonderful country already have it figured out.


3 thoughts on “Here’s a topic: The sense of community among Americans in 2010. Discuss.

  1. Loved this blog Erin. We’ve had some big issues with the school budgets here in Peabody and have started to try to come up with some grassroots efforts to make some changes. One thing we have discussed is how to create a greater sense of community here. Think I’ll take a walk with the boys today and see who we might run into….

  2. Since moving, I’ve found a new sense of community as well. As a mom in a small town, I’ve banded together with other moms to bring meals to families when they have a new baby. When I had S, I had meals delivered to my home nearly every night for 2 weeks! Some were delivered by women I had never met. They breezed in, told me to sit down, placed the casserole in the oven, tossed the salad and put dessert in the fridge and then left. Amazing stuff!

    I do think that community was lost for a bit in this country, but that it’s on the rise again. With families so spread out, people are realizing that we do need more than our own selves to help us along. Especially once you add kids into the mix. Around here, families really depend on each other. Who else is going to come over at 2AM to watch your kids when you go into labor? Who will pick up your kid from school if you’re stuck in traffic somewhere and just can’t get there?

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