Community Building

How does one build community? This is the question of the week I think…and I will try to explore this theme, hopefully with some response from others of like-mind!

I once lived in a community that was impoverished, gang ridden, drug stricken…raising my baby alone within that community. Many others in various precarious situations  had older children that strayed randomly from their homes to escape, to be children, to find alternatives from the destruction of their lives. I formed the basis of a group for these children (youth) and asked them what they wanted, needed; asked them about their dreams. They (the kids) ran their group, formed activities, and came to me for guidance when they perceived they needed it, but organized themselves and built something from nothing. They were unstoppable!

I had very little to do with the group in terms of directing; however, I coordinated, oversaw, and engaged in dialogue with the kids when they wanted (and they wanted dialogue frequently!)

The above  is one example of community. So, I learned from that experience that, in the name of community building, the ‘actual’ building of community has to come from the community itself. In this case, the children I worked with were that community. I could not “tell” them what they needed, or wanted, and then provide them with what I thought was necessary. That would have been paternalistic, I think.  I could only ask and have conversations with them that led to decision-making that was a process of consensus.  

“In Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Paulo Freire said: ” Scientific revolutionary humanism cannot, in the name of revolution, treat the oppressed as objects to be analyzed and (based on that analysis) presented with prescriptions for behaviour” (Freire, 2005, p. 133).

In other words, in relation to my experience with these kids, I approached them as subjects with self-determination, ‘knowers’ of their own experience, hopes and dreams. I could not prescribe to them what ‘should be’ for then they would not have engaged in any processes with me.

Are there other ways of building community? Other examples encouraged!

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To offer solutions or not?

“ix625″ or “ix” noted via comment (in regards to my post about “passion” ) that I could try offering solutions. I appreciate this feedback because it helps me to determine what people reading my blogs want, or conversely, what people perceive my blogs to mean.

One of the reasons I ask the questions I do, is to encourage or stimulate dialogue – a forum for discourse about comment interests and themes specifically related to existentialist themes and/or social relations.

My reasoning here is that although I have training and education in relation to the above-noted matters I cannot conceive of myself as an expert in isolation from the commentary of others (Paulo Freire speaks of this paradox).

This is not to say that I won’t offer solutions in the near future!

Finally, I am grateful for any responses to my posts that relate to the subject matter…thanks to all who have commented so far!

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Citing theorists

I am still new at blogging and am trying to be reflective in the learning process. In going back and reading my blog about “social support” I realized it would have been prudent to cite or reference some of my ideas…ergo…Emile Durkheim’s works, and Paul Freire works are two of my favourites and offer a foundation for some of my ideas. However, they are male writers/theorists and I write from a female perspective (but not only for women) so another favourite lately is a book edited by Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Jane titled  “Public Policy for Women.”

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Finding passion/meaning in Life

How does one get moving again when one has lost momentum in life? When the ho-hum of the day/week/weekend turns into greyness? When the trivialities of every day life take over, and chaotic moments interfere with an ability to stay focused?

What happens when a person knows she/he is blocked creatively; yet, nothing moves that person enough to shift the mood or state of being?

Responses appreciated!!

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Social Support

Reading other people’s recent blogs has brought to mind the need to discuss the necessity of human connection, as well as, the need for all human beings to have some kind of spirituality, whatever that may look like for the individual.

First, when I speak of human connection I speak of social support – the formal term for having people in one’s life that are there (emotionally, physically or instrumentally, psychologically/mentally, spiritually and often  economically) when one needs them to be.  Social support is a foundation for social well-being in the individual, community and society as a whole. Without social support we live as isolated human beings, alienated – alienation being a state whereby one disconnects from all of the above, as well as self – from our own conscious healthy human growth. This alienation leads frequently to illness in many forms: addictions (all kinds), mental illness, suicide, and dysfunction across micro, mezzo, and macro levels of society. One might argue that society as it is today creates conditions that alienate people as individuals and communities. The condition of alienation has the tendency to squash any spirituality that an individual may strive for, thus eliminating any potential for true spirituality in wider themes for communities.

Question: What can we do as individuals to ameliorate the conditions that alienation creates in today’s world?

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Work-Life Balance

“Beassertive” commented on her positive experience in incorporating more balance into her life via maintaining connections with family, friends, good nutrition, exercise, and perhaps, as I understand it, focusing more on the NOW than on the future.

Maintaining good social support networks (family, friends, formal supports) is essential, in my view, to having a balanced lifestyle. In addition, staying healthy physically (eating well, regular exercise, and enough sleep) is crucial to well-being. Just as important, is the need for women (and men) to identify what gives them meaning and purpose in life. Without this we are robotic beings clumsily moving through our days without vision and purpose.

How then, do we keep ourselves ahead by using the above strategies for well-being when the greatest challenge may be finding  the time?

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Connecting like-minds

I’m still learning to blog but curious to converse with other bloggers who want to engage in dialogue about women and health care in British Columbia. How does women’s health diverge from men’s and is our current health care system adequately attending to women’s health adequately?

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