Community the Simple Way

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creative Solutions to Big Problems

Many societies worldwide have become fragmented and extremely individualistic. We don’t know what community is anymore. I read an article a while back in which a young professional reflected on his experiences living in a long-term rental unit in a hotel building. He commented that he now parcels the concept of community into brief conversations in the elevator with people he will never see again. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the word was supposed to mean…

Philadelphia, 1998. Seven students from Eastern University move together into a house they name The Simple Way in ‘the bad part of town’. Their goal? To build community inside the house and in the neighbourhood. The students share their lives and belongings with each other, then get to know their neighbours and do the same with them. It’s about day-to-day, face-to-face, equal-to-equal relationship building and acting to help each other out with whatever comes along the way. The house is still there to this day and has even expanded to another one in the same area. Doesn’t that sound more like community than a soon forgotten elevator chat?

I’d  like to visit The Simple Way one day and experience this kind of real community- or better yet, start one right where I am. Now there’s a radical thought…


Today’s 4 Minute Writer


“Hi! How are you?!” She comes at me in those shaky high heels and frizzed out blonde hair.

“Good thanks.” Not exactly an open-ended response.

“Wasn’t this weekend just so awful? We had the kids over for a barbecue and had to stay indoors the whole time. When will the summer ever get here? I mean, really, it’s the middle of August already!”

The pace of her speech tires me. A slight nod is all I can muster.

“How about you? What did you do this weekend?”

I open my mouth  to respond-

“Oh, excuse me a second,” she cuts me off, “that’s Bob Jenkins from the President’s office over there. I need to go talk to him.” And without further ceremony, off she flitters toward him.

I breathe a deep sigh and shake my head. My day can only get better from here.

Use the comment field to suggest a topic, submit your writing on today’s 4 Minute Writer topic (Exuberant), or to comment.


Filed under Creativity, Writing

5 responses to “Community the Simple Way

  1. Two sides of community! I love the idea of the former but I love to be able to close the door and be without people, precisely because of Miss Frizzed-Out-Blonde. But there are awful stories about the needy in British communities being neglected because , simply , there is no community to know or care.

    Great Blog as usual, thank you:-)

    • Thanks for your comment. I like the idea of community but actually being a part of one is where the mess begins- you get the Frizzed-Out-Blondes, people who get under your skin, and those who won’t leave you alone when you want them to. And there’s that whole business of having to be “nice” so that everyone can be happy in each other’s company. Still, I long to be part of a community where I can tell Miss Frizzed-Out-Blonde that she’s fake and needs to get some depth, and where I can be challenged on my attitude, and where all these things are done with the intention of helping each other “get” life more (and get more out of life). Am I unrealistic?…

      • oh, yes – definitely identify with these sentiments – am often very tempted to vocalise my disinhibted thoughts but the danger with that is, perhaps, we don’t always understand how much someone else is struggling with life (appearances aside) and how they would react. That’s why I started my blog – to get a grip and give these thoughts an outlet, so I don’t turn into some Gordon Ramseyesque psycho monster spitting at everyone 🙂

      • There’s a good way to look at it- give the disinhibited thoughts an outlet where no one gets hurt and take them back, mellowed, into the ‘real’ world. Thanks for the insight.
        By the way, your poetry is amazing!
        Thanks for coming to this corner of the blogosphere to share your thoughts.

  2. Not at all. Healthy communities have their share of conflict, that’s how they grow and we grow as people I think. I’m just a chicken- I will take on conflict in the workplace, but when I get home I shy away from it. Maybe I should get a bit braver- learning more about life from everyone in my street is a good agenda…

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