Community is an idea I wonder if very many of us Americans (north Americans, ok Patricia :) think about. What does it even mean to you when you read the word? Some people still hook it up to the "commune" ideas of the 60s/70s and imagine a bunch of earthy types making potluck dinners and letting their babies mingle in the communal dirt together.
But in essence, every one of us lives in some sort of community, whether or not we notice/acknowledge it. Our communites are determined by many things: by the layout of our homes/neighborhoods. By common ethnic or religious or spiritual bonds that exist in our city or region; by economic factors; by cultural commonalities.
To me, a positive sense of community is synonymous with belonging, a feeling I've discovered that not everyone needs in the same degree. I have just as many friends who do not need the town outside of their home to fulfill any major needs beyond essential shopping nor the people to be anything more than co-inhabitants. I have other friends for whom physical environment is so important they can't live in sight of a building and would live in the forest if humanly possible. Other of my friends need access to spiritual or religious groups and this determines where they'll live.
I like to feel that I belong, that I know and am known. That when I venture into town, I am likely to see familiar faces who recognize me. I like to have familiar spots where I can go and hang out and expect a certain stability from. I like to participate in events that benefit the community in which I live. I like to believe that as people residing within the same square mileage, we have an effect on each other, and to have a conscious effect is better. In short, I like to feel included, and to give back to the group that includes me.
I like to read the news and feel like it pertains to me, and that I have the ability to respond to situations that develop, propositions, civic issues.
Working at the local, independent book store in town is a good step, but it's a very small one toward actually getting deeper into my community. I have to befriend people, and attend events, and get involved.
And as a new resident of this town, still clinging to the roots of my past community, I have to admit that this is harder than I expected. I want it to be instant. I want it to come effortlessly, and it does not.