When I think about community, what comes to mind is a common goal, or a common foundation. If this common goal/foundation is vague or even lost, the community will inevitably suffer and possibly fall apart. This goes for all kinds of communities, whether it be neighborhoods, houses full of people, churches, etc. This foundation needs to be clearly stated and strongly pursued, for pursuit can create progression, and progression can then manifest into stronger and better relationships. All Communities should strive for this and must strive for it if it wishes to flourish.
What I’ve learned from past experiences and from moving to Los Angeles is that this is a difficult thing to succeed at building AND maintaining. There are so many moving parts and they can often change. There are people who have different ideas, thoughts, ways of living, beliefs, pet peeves, you name it, and when they have to coexist, times can get a little hairy. In order for these kinds of times to be kept at bay, the community MUST define what community means and looks like to them and what they are looking to get out of it AND put into it. Otherwise, you will see heads clash and frustration brew, for one may put forth more effort than the other, thinking that’s what community should be, while another thinks their putting more effort in because they see something else needed that they aren’t receiving. Already there’s division and all because one wanted something different out of it all than the other.
What’s my point? My point is that community isn’t just about making the house or the church or the neighborhood run and/or function smoothly. It’s way more than that. Someone can do all the chores and carry out all the responsibilities and run all the specs and do all the behind the scenes work all day, but if they don’t feel appreciated, if they don’t receive help, if the most important thing was to do all of this and make it all look nice and run efficiently and nothing more, you’ll just have a nice looking, well working (from the outside) entity with zero heart. What happens after a VERY short amount of time? It crumbles and dies from the inside and before you know it, the emptiness will be seen from the outside and it will no longer matter who does what. Destruction is imminent. So, be open. Be clear. Be flexible. Realize you’re not the only one working towards something. Be vocal in what you’re moving towards and have an open dialogue about the moving parts and be available and willing to put forth the effort. Communities are beautiful things and can be life savers for some, so, before joining one, ask yourself what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to put into the hat, for laziness and a lack of flexibility will be the downfall of it all if not careful.
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee's Urban Service Programs. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service.