Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Ramblings - What Makes a Community a Community?

First, I wanted to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's blog post that pondered whether I wanted to join the ranks of the retired.   It will take me a bit to catch up with the commenters (plus my Facebook friends who commented on Facebook).

No, I'm not ready to retire - but that first tendril of jealousy reading about a high school/college friend's retirement took me a bit by surprise.

How wonderful it was to hear from the blogging community.

And, speaking of community:
What makes a community a community?  Growing up in New York City, I have more of an urban outlook on that question.

A good community, I believe, should be
1.  Walkable - safe, easy to walk, sidewalks in good condition are a must. Availability of public transportation is a must, too. It's a little more complicated than that, though - how does your city rate?
2.  Designed in a way that encourages its inhabitants to interact with each other.
3.  Inhabited by a mix of people people - young and old, children and childless, people from different ethnic groups or cultures.
4.  You don't have to travel far to find employment, food, drink, or entertainment.

To encourage community interaction, residents of the city of Ithaca, New York (about an hour from where I live in upstate New York) held the first "porchfest" in 2007.  It's a simple concept.  Musicians entertain on porches.  The concerts are free.  People come and go as they please.

The movement has grown - there are now Porchfests in Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Franklin, Tennessee and many other cities.  Finally, Binghamton (which tends to be late to most parties) decided to join in this year.
An innocent porch, before its hour of fame

Of course, in practice, the Ithaca Porchfest has now grown so large that it needs traffic control.  I've never been to it, but I may visit on September 27, due to the success of Binghamton's first porchfest this past Sunday on the West Side, where my spouse and I do our exercise walks after work. 
The same porch, set up for Porchfest
Sure enough, people came out - on foot, on bicycles, pulling wagons with young children on them.

Even a museum got into the act.

Peaches and Crime performing at Robson Center, a former mansion

I was only able to see two groups, but it was nice seeing neighbors getting out of their homes and visiting with each other.  You weren't held hostage by a group you weren't enjoying, either; you could come and go as you please.

My only negative moment was when I stepped into something a dog had left.

Binghamton, in many ways, has seen better days, sad to say.  But there is a lot of heart left to this city of some 47,000.  I hope that Porchfest encouraged West Side residents to step out of their homes on a lovely Sunday summer day, and say "hi" to each other.

What is your definition of community?

This is day 2 of the September Challenge hosted by Everyday Gyaan - come read other posts by a group of devoted bloggers.

5 comments:

  1. How lovely the Porchfest sounds, Alana.
    I'm grateful to be presently living in a good community as defined by you. I also define community more loosely by old ties that bind friends who have moved away but still connect at various levels. For me, a large part of a good community is one in which individuals and families enjoy the freedom to be themselves.

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  2. For giggles, I put my address into that walkability index, and came up with a score of 8. But then we are a rural area. And while walking alongside the roads is possible, it's not very advisable.

    Porchfest sounds like a wonderful event! Maybe something like that would work down in the town of Crab Orchard, where the houses are a little closer together and they even have a sidewalk or two on the main street. :O)

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  3. Porchfest, I like that.The festival sounds like a lot of fun. In Ray Bradbury's book, Fahrenheit 451 the architects got rid of all the front porches in order to eliminate communication ;(
    For me, I love small towns where everyone knows each other and welcomes new folks, too.

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  4. What a great idea. It'd never work here, but I would love to see someone try.

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  5. For me, community meas a group of people who help, support, motivate and lookout for each other.

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