29 October 2011

Communities - are they the key to our survival?

We're all familiar with the term 'Community'. Those of us who are regular users of social media are part of a global community. The Oxford dictionary definition is [mass noun] the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.*

We like to share, educate, chat, help and support each other. We get a buzz when people take the time to comment on our blog posts, like our facebook pages, view our youtube clips or retweet our links. It makes us feel that we are listened to, respected or just happy that we've found like-minded individuals to chat and chuckle with. But how can that sense of community transfer into the real world as opposed to a virtual one and help us to survive the challenging times we find ourselves in? 

As an intricately social species we receive immense pleasure from being part of a group, and studies on teenagers have shown that adolescents actively seek peer groups as investments in their future survival**. 

Aristotle once said "Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods." 

It strikes me that in the last couple of decades many people have been so busy collecting 'goods' they've forgotten about the importance of friends - or community.  

This week Cultivate  launched a video that explains the term 'community resilience' in a friendly, jargon free manner. The video encourages us to look beyond ourselves and shows us that by working together we can change our way of thinking and ultimately steer our lives so that we can survive the climatic and economic challenges that we find ourselves in.

During the past 18 months I've been fortunate enough to be able to work with six community gardens in the surrounding area. In two weeks time a group of us will be meeting in Dublin to establish an All Ireland Community Garden Network with the aim of linking and supporting all the gardens on the island of Ireland. Many of us have realised that with hard work, passion and commitment as individuals we can make a difference, but as a group we can do so much more.

I've written about the many benefits of Community gardening in previous posts - from the basic life skills of learning how to provide and preserve food through to friendships made and sense of achievement gained. However, community gardens can also be the catalyst that enables those same communities to look within themselves and begin to acknowledge that the only way to their survival is by working together. From gardening to supporting local business, to sharing knowledge, educating each other and listening to our elders, once we reach within our community we can flourish.

Communities with common goals can find considerable energy if they so desire - just look at the fundraising efforts and commitment expended when creating new sports facilities. Now imagine that same energy transferred into making a community more resilient - providing land that could be used to grow food in community supported agriculture or installing wind or solar power that could be used to run the homes and businesses within those communities.  

This change in attitude takes time and as we  are discovering, time that our planet may not give us the luxury to take.  If we don't wake up and shake up our communities soon and figure out how we are to survive the more difficult years ahead of us, we may just find we've left it too late.

*Oxford Dictionary
**Source: National Geographic Magazine 2011

                                                                               Reproduced with kind permission of Ciltivate)


  1. Good post Dee and I also enjoyed seeing all the photos of your vegetables. My beds need a serious weeding this year, not sure whether to spray them off. I just didn't keep on top of the weeding enough this year and planted things too late too.

  2. Thanks Lorna. Re your own beds, knowing how busy you are, if you just get a chance to cover them with cardboard or black plastic that will give you a head start in the spring as it will kill the weeds off.


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