A couple of summers ago we were able to complete the fence around our backyard. Since both of our neighbors had fences already, this wasn't really that hard. We used fencing to close up the yard on either side of the house, and used a chicken-wire fence to close off the back. (The chicken wire becomes almost invisible in the lilac hedge and allows us to keep the "view" of open prairie land behind our house!)
Voila. It is perfect for kids. You can send them out to play and not be worried about them heading to the road or onto neighboring properties.
However, it also acts like a fortress. Keeps us seperated from the rest of the world.
Some days I think I could easily become a hermit. With so much activity indoors, and an introvert by nature, it takes a lot of effort to get out, mingle with the neighbors and connect with my community.
Last summer, I intentionally played in the front yard with the kids. Consequently we had a lot of impromptu play times with our neighbors, cultivating relationships with dear friends and making some new ones too. My kids are already begging for warm enough weather to play outdoors with their friends again. Oh, and freezies. Can't forget the freezies!!!
Before Christmas, I was able to host a Cookie Party. I invited gals of all ages from up and down the street, and their kids too, and we gathered for a morning of getting-to-know-you visists, chuckles and catch-up conversations. Some women I knew before this, others I had only briefly met. Kids were given an opportunity to decorate cookies at the table, and it was a way for me to share all the white-chocolate covered pretzels I'd made (and didn't want to eat all myself!!).
I cannot begin to say how much this was a blessing to me. It was a full morning (even busier getting ready for it) but the time was a gift and a highlight of my advent season. Little M was asking me when we could do it again - I was asking the same thing! SUMMER!! When we can set up the sprinkler ;).
These are little attempts to become a part of, and even contribute to, the community around me. It is so easy to drift along, focused on my own life and wants and needs. In a day and age when much emphasis is placed on individualism, this is very refreshing indeed.
So, I'm also on the look-out for new ideas :).
How do you cultivate community in your world?