Theme: Community


When tasked with writing on “community” a flood of thoughts, feelings, and experiences rush over me like a tidal wave. In various stages of my life I’ve felt like a girl with a community, a girl with no community, and a girl who is stationed somewhere in between communities. As I’ve gotten older, the entire concept of community has shifted.

As a teenager, my community was filled with my classmates, the people who I considered to be my best friends forever and ever no matter how far apart we were or where life took us. My fellow cheerleaders, the boys on the football team, my boyfriend’s friends - we were a group, a community, joined together by our shallow interests and not often much else. The naivety of this time is something I’ll always relish and miss.

As a now thirty-something, my community is made up of various people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, and in all forms. I have the community that has been built on the business I’ve created. I have the community that has been built on the friendships that have come out of that community. I have the community of mom friends I’ve made because our kids were in the same daycare class. I have the community of friends I’ve known for more than a decade. I have the community of relatives who have become friends.

The communities surrounding me have all changed and shaped me in one way or another. Whether through genuine relationships and deeply built trust, or through simply filling a void of entertainment and companionship.

And yet.

There are so many days where it feels as if I’m not part of any community. As if I am bouncing around between groups without properly sticking. I feel lost and alone and as if I’m missing something crucial in my life.

I’m craving the type of local community that comes together over a glass of wine sharing their actual innermost feelings. That leaves a cup of coffee on a doorstep when you know someone is having a hard time behind closed doors. When a quick “want to meet at the park for an hour?” turns into an after-park snack, followed by dinner, followed by laughs into the night. That gets together for a yearly “Friendsgiving” and stuffs our faces silly. That thinks nothing of our kid’s tantrums, and kisses the boo-boos of one another’s children.

I have an amazing community surrounding me. I know I am loved and supported and cared for. But the local community is one that I’m still seeking and slowly building bit by bit. Because community building in your adult years is often built on much more than shallow interests. And besides, all great things take time.

- Sarah Hartley

Writing Exercises

Prompt 1: Do you feel like you're part of a community? Why or why not?

Prompt 2: Describe your current neighborhood.

Prompt 3: What do you think about this quote: “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” -Dorothy Day

Exercise 1: Create an ad for your ideal community. Describe where it will be, what the requirements are to join, what the rules are, etc.

Exercise 2: In 1,000 words, write about 3 people who always make you feel heard and accepted.

Community Features

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Sarah Hartley