Posted under Culture
You can’t build real communities without neighbors and friends and civic bonds they form. That truly hit me over the past couple of month while I was away from blogging and CHT.
One of the reasons that kept me away from the keyboard was dealing with the aftermath of local flooding that took place in my home of Arkansaw, Wisconsin. We had a sudden rainstorm in mid-August dump eight inches of rain in a two hour period that caused our little Arkansaw Creek to flood its banks and damage the homes alongside it and destroy the county park right next to it in town. While this wasn’t Hurricane Katrina we’re talking about, it certainly affected real people and their real dwellings and caused damage insurance companies will not pay because the land alongside the creek was not considered a flood plain, even during the spring run-off and flood season. Amazing how a tiny creek turned into a torrent of floodwater in a mater of two hours!
As the Eighth District representative on the Pepin County Board which represents Arkansaw, my duties now included helped people in town clean up, be able to get state funds (forget Federal) to clean up and pay damages. I helped with organizing a benefit in town to help those with flood damage pay their bills. But of the many meetings I ahve attended since then, the biggest problem the county and townspeople are trying to tackle is how can we better be able to communicate within our own community, amongst the people who are supposedly our neighbors?
Needless to say communication was not very good during the whole immediate flood aftermath and I take my share of the responsibility as much as anyone. I could have done more. I could have reached out and met more the people whom I live around. Yet its’ not easy when work makes commute far away and you spend as much time at home as you like. Not to mention the fact our county doesn’t have a radio station, just one cable access channel in an area many people still receive analog TV signals plus the fact there are many people who live in my community as shut ins on roads I’ve never heard of and places I didn’t still know existed after have lived there for six years. Everyone one of was running around trying find out what was going on, how serious the situation was and who had damage to their homes (for me, just a little water in basement. I was lucky I found a home on high ground above the creek. Most of the village is placed in a gorge that carved out by the creek thousands of years ago.)
Six years and I still am not on a first name basis with my neighbors, although I see more of them now having attending meeting as such and the benefit as well. Still though, it’s something I’m disappointed in myself in and cautionary tale for those thinking about moving out to the county or trying to find “community” in a smaller town, county or township. Life today doesn’t make it easy to do so as I pointed out. You can move to a new place and go for years not knowing a soul other than a face if all you do is commute to work or enjoy entertainment in the big city. You have to put the effort in to get to know those around you whether through schools or churches or clubs or what have you. Otherwise such moves in search of “community” are wastes of time, you’d be more honest to stay in your subdivision or apartment complex.
You don’t have to necessarily ”love thy neighbor” with a big sloppy,wet kiss and even I have my problems with some living around me. But at least get to know their names. Me, I’m still working on it. It may take a while.