When I think of community I think of connections between people, between places and neighborhoods, between ideas, and even between experiences. I see all of these both in an individual light and as an interconnected part of a greater whole. Every person has their own unique story and leaves their own unique footprint; every place leaves a mark on the people who live, work, and play there; and every idea comes from the people and places and experiences that happen to come into contact with each other.
Like a constellation, each star comes together to form a greater symbol, because something greater and more meaningful happens when individual pieces of a larger puzzle join in ways that honor the contributions of the smaller pieces – while at the same time joining to create something with its own personality and its own unique contributions.
In my own life, my work, the classes I take, the friends I have, the volunteer activities I’ve experienced, my family, and the experiences that shape my days and weeks all come together to become a larger life experience. A lot of these pieces seem completely unrelated. How do marathon training and childhood literacy programs, for example, come together? I’m not entirely sure, though there are programs designed for young girls, in particular, to foster greater self-esteem and confidence through running.
In local communities, seemingly unrelated pieces and people who may have nothing to do with one another on the surface do – by virtue of their shared geography – come together to form a larger community. All of those pieces are part of the greater whole in some way or another. The constellation in the picture is a hyena . None of the stars on their own resemble a hyena in any way shape or form , but together that’s what we have. I try to look at community (and myself) that way – through a lens that looks at how each piece shapes and is shaped by the larger whole.