by Jeff Mills
Coordinator, Community Development
Mills Community Support

Deepening CommunityIn his book, “Deepening Community, Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times,” Paul Born speaks of the nature of belonging and how healthy community leads to individual and collective altruism.

“When we find one another, are engaged together, and realize our personal identities are becoming associated with the identity of community, we naturally reach out to one another. Individual acts of altruism create norms of behavior and can become acts of collective altruism that benefit all. The paradox of collective altruism is that we receive personal benefit by acting for the good of the whole. We are willing to suspend personal need in order to contribute to the collective need, knowing that our personal experience of community will be enhanced. In this way belonging is enhanced.”

Paul describes the four pillars of deep community: sharing stories, taking time to enjoy one another, taking care of one another, and working together for a better world. The work of the community centred on recreating Augusta Street Park as a truly welcoming place is in essence building a more “deep” community. Friends of Augusta Street Park use an “asset-based community development” approach (simply put, they are welcoming; encourage everyone to share their talents, skills and gifts; and creative, finding affordable ways to move the project ahead). Friends of Augusta learned long ago that a healthy neighbourhood park is more about people coming together in the park and taking ownership rather than sitting back suggesting that “someone/they” should do something. Much like Paul’s four pillars of a deeper community, Friends of Augusta believe that by sharing our stories and taking time to enjoy one another means that we will care for each other and create a better world.

The photo above was taken at the July 9th Community Pot Luck dinner at the “5 Wednesdays in July” free music event with Terry Tufts. In this great photograph of a welcoming community and the joys of a community potluck are children, youth, adults, seniors, grandchildren, grandmothers, business owners, people with intellectual challenges, a Master Gardener, a French speaking child with limited English, Neighbourhood Tomato Community Garden volunteers, a future Mills board member, a therapeutic riding program volunteer, a Montreal Expo fan, a human resources facilitator, a real estate agent, a massage therapist, a young woman who loves to dance and a gentleman who loves folk music and potluck dinners.

There is always a seat at the table for everyone at 5 Wednesdays in July. All musicians have volunteered their time and talents. We are truly blessed.

Interested in kicking back with some good music, some great pot luck food, and “taking time to enjoy one another,” a “deeper” community? See you on July 23 for another great 5

Wednesdays in July community potluck with the inspired music of Jennifer Noxon and Brendan Gawn.