Community in action

I have a friend, Colby, who is into everything. He’s involved in some sort of woodworking club - they get together and swap tips about projects and types of wood and so on. He’s in a service club. His wife plays Bunco with the neighbor ladies. He works part time at Lowes - the lumber department - and he bowls, works out at the Y, and is really involved in PTSA.

Colby’s circle of relationships with different groups of people, spread to infinity. You know your boss and a few of her friends and she is in numerous clubs whose members have families and so on.

Of course they all fall into a group of people who live in their neighborhood, their town, their city, state, country and on and on. Communities could be a group of writers, artists, civic service groups, small towns or villages within a larger city.

But there is a circle we all fit; the Village News reader’s circle? Could be, each of us here are in the same geography which could be called - our community. Whether we are involved civically or not, we’re still part of the same tribe.

Colby was a believer in joining clubs or teams. You don’t do that because you’re crazy about bowling, duck carving or cycling, you do it for family – the artificial family.

Accordingly anthropologist Robert Redfield, there is a common denominator in how people come together. It’s a stage of human relations. He calls it ‘folk society’ consisting of strong primary personal relationships. That is not to say primitive societies are moonlight and roses and big cities are automatically personal hells.”

Redfield wrote that, “In every isolated community there is a civilization; in every city there is a [group of smaller communities or] ‘folk societies.’

The reason folk societies can exist under such different circumstances is that the members of the folk society have a strong sense of belonging together.”

In other words people can make a community wherever they want and make their own community be, whatever they want it to be.

The extended family or community, created out of a variety of beliefs or geography, for that matter, could validate a person, give him a place to be in the world and alleviate the pain of loneliness. Community is the answer to the loss, self purpose and loneliness.

Just Google community and see the huge number of entries. Here’s one:  In author Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” the finale of the novel has protagonist George Webber realize, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to escape time and memory.”

But history is like a pillow for a community to rest its head. We build on history allowing it to enlighten our future. In Chesterfield, there sure is plenty of history to go around.

So how do we go about planning for our future and keep history as a blanket and keep our extended family intact? And what’s in our plan and how does it affect us. That is, does your plan for the future impinge on mine? We all want an idyllic place to live. But one man’s ceiling is another’s man’s floor, one mans waste of time, is another’s passion or one woman’s neighbors, are another’s nightmare.

In other words, how we plan can affect us for a long time to come. OK, here it comes, another sermon on the county’s comprehensive plan. . Not many in the community has been interested in it. Maybe because it’s called a “countywide” comprehensive plan and folks don’t realize it’s for all of us no matter how small a space we take up.

The plan is at a critical juncture. It could turn in a number of directions. Community meetings held by our supervisors in the coming weeks will be only a quick overview; a discussion that has been going on for almost three years. Then there will be a public meeting by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors (BOS) and then the Board will choose one of two versions of the plan; one being a creation of a planning consulting firm that facilitated 33 citizens chosen from around the county and its contents edited by the community; the other being a deflated version of that plan concocted by the planning commission. One planner said the planning commission version would take us backward not forward.

The third option would be for the BOS to send it back to a planning commission that has two new members. The problem is that the commissioner who took the scalpel, more directly, a hatchet to the citizen’s plan is still a powerful force on the commission.

Bringing the comprehensive plan in line with what the community wants is still an uphill battle and what the BOS does with it won’t be undone for years. The larger community of Virginia and its General Assembly rightly wrote, in its law, about each locality having a comprehensive plan revised every five years, was the right thing to do.


Community in action

Had to chuckle at the double meaning of your title: from the tenor of your article, it could just as well have been "Community inaction."

By the way, I much prefer the new CAPTCHA technique. I can easily deal with arithmetic problems, whereas my 20/400 vision just could not distinguish many of the blurred letters of the previous system. Hope this new technique remains permanent.

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