Thursday, June 27, 2013

Community ...part 3 - Participation

I was chatting with some fairly new people not long ago who were complaining about living here in Ka'u. They said that there was nothing to do. They had done the sightseeing things and were now bored. Impossible to make friends, they said. They were considering going back to the mainland. When I started talking about all the things hubby and I get involved with,  things that we do especially with the community, these people seemed astounded. They had no idea. They have since started getting involved. Whether they stay or move is yet to be seen.

The community here is always doing something. And residents are welcome to get involved, though they won't drag you kicking and screaming to join in. But I find that getting involved with communiy events really helps form strong bonds, plus makes friends. Some events are small affairs, like a half day workshop being hosted by a local artist. Others can be big such as the week long coffee festival, with it's dinners, tours, contests, music fair, and lectures

Some events I can choose to be a worker bee, like helping to set up tables and tents at a local fun-in-the-park day. I can help man information booths. Offer to put up posters around town advertising events. I can volunteer for the annual whale count. Take part in the beach clean up. Go plant trees in the national park on volunteer days. Become a volunteer at the extended care facility, reading newspapers to residents, placing games, taking time to chat and listen. Or I can join local community action groups, such as a 'friends of the park" type group, or a group like OKK that has helped seniors make their homes safer, has cleaned up local ponds, repaired and cleaned forgotten cemetaries, restored local historical buildings. 

Other times I'm a participant /recipient: going on the guided hikes in the national park, having lunch-with-the-ranger, attending various local festivals, signing up for lei making classes, going to hula classes, joining the group making ceramics, going to local lectures, enjoying the town holiday parades.

Many people in my community are active. Events of some sort or other are constantly going on. By choosing to participate, I meet other people in my area, bonding with my community and meeting new friends.

I was just sitting here thinking of some of the things we have done recently that involves the community in some way ....
...helped out with the "Pork in the Park" event, setting up tents, chairs, tables, trashcans
...ate dinner at our local dinner club in support of the hosts
...spent several days helping to drive people to the local week-long health clinic
...volunteered at the community vegetable garden
...worked with two different community groups that do things locally
...took donated vegetables to the senior nutritional program
...participated in seed exchange events
...gave neighbors rides into town
..volunteered at the local canine spay/neuter event
...join a group of neighbors for dinner and an evening of chatting

In the next few days we will be drive into town to cheer and clap for the town parade, go to a local restaurant to support a new local entertainer (she's going to sing with a local musician group), eat lunch in the park to help raise money for the keiki Christmas dinner, go to the community bingo event, donate books to the little used book store run by volunteers (all books only $.25!), eat lunch at the local cafe to support a new business, go to the local farmers markets and swap meet.

There are many things that we simply don't have time to get involved with, but they sound like fun or worthy events. Community game nights. Bus trips to the astronomy center. Hiking club. Quilting group. National park volunteers. The rodeo club. The ham radio operators. Hula. Weekly ceramics. Flower arranging. Hawaiian language classes. Ukulele. Buddhist temple events. Swimming at the Pahala pool. Garden clubs. Horse riding club. Puppy kindergarten classes. Yoga. 

If I just stayed at home, kept to myself, I could still be happy but I would miss out on being part of a community. I find that I like community life. I enjoy doing things with other area residents. I especially enjoy working alongside them on a job such as cleaning up a beach or helping to restore a building. Plus I enjoy the socializing. It's like having hundreds of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

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