Being part of a community is a big subject to discuss. So I will be exploring this in parts. Ha, my very own series, just like the movies! ...."Ohana, Hawaii" ..."Ohana, the Sequel"....."Ohana, Part 3". LOL!
Living in Ka'u, Hawaii I find myself involved in a community for the first time in my life. Oh, I've lived in small towns before, and in cities, suburbs, and the English countryside. But never have I experienced community life like I am now. Everywhere I lived neighbors barely knew one another, seldom did things together, didn't get involved. I had plenty of friends, but most lived a decent distance away, not even shopping at the same stores or eating at the same restaurants. Even the times I was in small towns, people generally kept to themselves....except for the town busybody of course! Every town seems to have one. Was this isolation just part of living on the eastcoast, where people were seldom concerned or even interested? I don't know. In England we were "The Yanks", foreigners. So I can understand that we weren't adopted into any form of community.
So, why is being part of a community important to me as a homestead farmer? The community is part of the network I need to make my homestead successful. The community becomes the source of foods that I cannot grow for myself. And they are the takers of my surplus. They help keep an eye on me, on my farm, on my livestock. Not in a busybody sort of way, but rather with a caring watchful eye. At one time I would have been offended that people watched me come and go. Now it feels more like .... reassuring. I can draw upon the community for help, for suggestions, for information. I can usually find someone in the community to provide a service that I need.
In my community people tend to be nice to one another most of the time, even if they are basically strangers. They are interested without being overly snoopy.
Oh, not everyone is part of my community. Of course not! Not everyone gets along. This surely isn't utopia! People are people, and not everyone has compatible interests. Nor is everyone a "nice" person. Some people take joy in making other people unhappy, just like anywhere else in the world. But there is an undercurrent of interest, caring that I didn't sense living in other places.
Here in Hawaii there is a term for the family : Ohana. I don't know if there is a Hawaiian term for the community, but it's sort of like being in a large Ohana. Like in a large extended Ohana, everyone belongs. And people help one another out when there is a need.
I often talk with the seniors down at our town community center. One time I asked about the time of the great depression and about the time during the second world war. What was the food situation like? Food was in shortage. What did people do? I got back plenty of quizzical looks. I was told that no one went hungry. Those who could, grew food. Those who couldn't, received food. The community acted to feed itself. That's what a community does.