A big part of the modern tiny house movement is community. Whether organic or planned, community and the interaction within is a large part of why people want smaller homes. They feel less trapped inside and find themselves inspired to interact more with the world outside. Community refers to any group sharing something in common. It may just be the love of small spaces that unites a tiny house community, but there is something; a common ground. But what key elements must be present for community to exist? How about these.
The world is full of people. It doesn't revolve around just one person or just one family. We all have to consider each other.
Through community we are able to be our best selves. There is no time to be overly critical, petty, backstabbing, or condescending. In order to thrive, a community has to encourage even the "least of us" to be our best selves. There will be joy and pain, bumps and bruises, good days and bad days. But through community we can lift each other up each day.
It only takes one smile to soften the heart of another. Community is about finding that happy place and relishing in even the small pleasantries.
If a community is to work everyone must bear the burden. If you take your dog for a walk, clean up after him. Don't leave a mess for someone else to step in. If you aren't actively using the dryer, don't leave your clothes sitting in it. In community we must take responsibility for ourselves each and every day.
For every action, there is a reaction.
We are reminded daily of a world that doesn't seem to care for itself or others. The Internet has strengthened relationships but weakened ties. We are bound to no one in particular. We don't act, we react. Retail locations have now put "self-checkout" into place so that we never have to interact with another human. Banks allows us to text a photo of our check rather than go into the branch. We are finding more and more ways to DISconnect. In fact, in his 1887 thesis, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies outlined two types of community or more specifically human association. The first is Gemeinschaft which is translated to mean 'community' and the second is Gesellschaft which translates to 'society' or 'association.' As he explores these two, Tönnies makes a point to say that no group is wholly Gemeinschaft or wholly Gesellschaft. In fact, he details why humans need a healthy mix of the two. His writing though is purely theoretical and lacks a practical application. Not once does he answer the question of how to obtain community without sacrificing "me" time or upsetting the G und G balance. Perhaps these 5 ways will help you:
- Faith. If you are spiritual or religious consider joining a group filled with like-minded people. A number of RV parks offer non-denominational chapel services as well as some small groups or Bible studies. You can also find a local church while on the road that welcomes you and gives you a familiar feeling. As a tiny houser who is parked in a community, you may want to check out local churches, synagogues, temples, or the like. If nothing else it will be worth the coffee talk beforehand and the handshakes after.
- Food. Make food. Invite others over to share in it. Have a happy hour at your house or in your backyard. "Breaking bread" is a fantastic way to meet and converse with people.
- Be present. Take on a roll of being a friend who others know they can count on or even call up to talk to. It may inconvenience you at the time but it is such a simple way to engage. You can also check out local mentoring options. I know at our local public library there is a group of reading mentors who once a week volunteer with other adults to read to school-age children. Don't leave these things up to someone else. It may never get done!
- Network. Networking has become such a corporate term in the last few years that many of us have forgotten that the definition is - quite simply - a group or system of interconnected people or things. It is being part of a group of like-minded folks. Events are just the physical manifestation of those networks. I immediately think of the tiny house Meetup groups held in Boston, Boise, and south Florida, where like-minded folks can meet each other and talk tiny despite their other affiliations. From these sort of events are born authentic friendships.
- Cherish your family. A large part of the tiny house life and the nomad life is spent focusing on relationships. It is about cultivating the love you have for your family and the love they share with you. I can remember quite well when my parents stopped being just my folks and started also being my friends. That meant a great deal to me and to them and we learned to cherish each other thereby increasing the value of our time together.
- BONUS: Walking. Seems simple enough, right? Put one foot in front of the other. But when you commit to walking, be it your neighborhood, your campground, or even a local park, you are more than likely going to encounter others. If you add talking to your walking you may just end up walking away with a new community!
In what ways to do you work to increase community? How does it make you feel? Can you imagine a life without community? Let us know in the comment section below. We also invite you to LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.