In a recent interview with the show’s presenter Iain, he took a step back from his usual radio banter and took the opportunity to discuss with me what community really means to him. This is what he said:
“For me, community means all of those groups you can be part of in their daily life, whether it be family, work, social circles, your local football ground, your sports club, your church, or just those people you pass every day in the street – you know the ones, those faces you recognise and eventually build up enough of a rapport with to either smile and say hello or just nod! But it’s more than just saying hello, it’s more than just that passing greeting – it’s the way that turns into something like cohesion – the glue that holds you together as a person. The only way I can ever explain how I feel about it is by explaining my own sense of community and the many overlapping circles I am part of, like my family, work space, squash club, Men-Beer-and-Bikes group… like a Venn diagram.
You’re probably reading this thinking I’m mad to think that work is part of my community, and it’s very true that it’s easier to go into work, do the job and walk away. It’s much more difficult (or for me, at least), and takes much more energy and lifeblood to involve yourself in the lives of those working around you. Again, it might just be smiling and have a conversation and asking how they feel, or once you have established those relationships, it might be talking through problems and all those daily gripes and groans you have and share.
In a broader context it is very easy to go and use a facility like a sports club and not to engage, to navel stare, not to look around you but remain a solitary being with a solitary existence. But what cohesion does that bring? None. What joy? None, or not for someone like me, anyway. Having a group of friends that resembles that resembles a venn diagram means you might go to footie together, to the pub. Maybe even on a walking holiday once a year if your friends, like me and mine, are sad old gits. Maybe you even extend the group with partners and children, creating circles, and wider circles, creating localities, putting back in, supporting.
For institutions and organisations like clubs and theatres, community is about providing services and access – in a theatre it’s a balanced book of events, for a footie club it’s about providing a pleasant experience – well, if you can ignore the profanity from the South Stand…
Ultimately, Community is all about giving as well as taking. Not saying I don’t feel good and it’s my turn to talk all the time, but turning around and listening. Being cared for and caring for. Putting in the hours to get involved with people you’re worried about. It’s about belonging.