We Need Each Other: A Call to Community
There are many different ways to define community. When I think of community, I reflect on a simple conversation in the wake of a superstorm.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy raged through the northeast, flooding streets, cutting power lines, tearing through homes, and leaving $70 billion worth of damage in its wake. It’s reported that more than 8 million people were without power, thousands of whom were affected for weeks.
The Rockaways, on New York’s Long Island, bore some of the worst damage and destruction.
I was living in Brooklyn at the time, and I wanted to show up in solidarity with the disaster survivors in the more isolated and impacted communities. I joined up with Occupy Sandy, the grassroots disaster relief network dedicated to providing mutual aid to communities affected by the storm.
One day, I was out in Dayton Towers in Rockaway Beach, a community of underserved, mostly Black residents, that had been without power, fresh water, and supplies for days. I encountered a young boy. His family home was severely damaged, as were most of his neighbors’ homes.
When I approached him, I had imagined he would ask for help or wonder about the supplies I had, or maybe even complain about how tired, hungry, and upset he felt. Instead, he asked me a simple question:
“How’s everyone else doing?”
What a question. This young boy couldn’t have been more than 11 years old but his first concern wasn’t about himself or his needs but the greater community.
We build solidarity and mutual aid in moments like this when we consider others before we consider ourselves. We are social animals, and this behavior is inherent in our nature.
If we look for it, we can be inspired by the strength and resilience of people around us.
These same sentiments can be applied to living with other challenges and hardship, including climate disruption and the attendant stresses it places on our communities.
Can we be brave enough to consider how everyone and everything is doing? What if we took time to check-in with our fellow humans, animals, plant life, and other living things with whom we share this fragile planet?
“It's tempting to ask why if you fed your neighbors during the time of the earthquake and fire, you didn't do so before or after.”
Disaster and hardship can provide a platform for community-building, but they don’t have to be the only impetus; we can come together in times of joy, celebration, and curiosity, which can serve as a foundation for when times get tough. We don’t need to wait for the shoe to drop to reach out to others and to ask how everyone else is doing.
A Call to Community
If you resonate with this message and consider yourself of like mind and heart, I want to be in community with you.
Reach out and let me know more about you!