Yesterday I realized why I enjoy Ballard so much. It’s not simply the human sized houses and neighborhoods full of families. It’s that community “works” in Ballard. It doesn’t feel forced, contrived or reactionary. Families don’t eat meals together or stop to talk with their neighbors because they read in a book somewhere that this is how you “build” healthy community, they do these things because it is what comes natural.

I am tired, exhausted of hearing and reading how to “construct” spaces to somehow “cultivate” community. If we need to read a book to learn about community then perhaps we should be reading something else, like a book on how to work through the dysfunction that is our life. If we don’t know how to naturally do what humans have been doing since the dawn of time, namely be in community with others, then the problems that need to be addressed are on a much deeper level then a book or seminar on building community can provide.

We need to seek real, professional help. Fast.

Or maybe there is an alternative. Maybe we can stop looking to the culture of the quick fix (or the quick anything for that matter) and begin living amongst those who already know and are doing what we simply cannot do on your own (and never were designed to do alone).

Start listening to a different story and we will in turn begin to live a different way. Stories that are rooted in the past with a firm grip on the present.

It makes no sense to look for cues on how to live a functional, healthy and holistic life from a culture that is itself severely dysfunctional and disconnected.

Ballard is beautiful precisely because it knows where it has come from and celebrates it. Ballards community will quickly be eroded when the ties to its past have been severed. It will be a sad day when the elderly have passed away and the families priced out because they are not “economically viable” enough to survive in the new Ballard.

The condos going up all around these families have a different story to tell. One that is rooted in greed, fear and isolation. I believe you can judge a culture by the way it builds its homes. What then does it say about us as a society when we allow for structures to be built that will last no more than 20 years?

We don’t build homes where life can thrive; we build glorified storage spaces to hold all of the materials possessions we collect.

Yesterday was “grunnlovsdag”; the day Norway celebrates the signing of its constitution. Outside of Norway, Ballard has the one of the largest communities of Norwegians in the world. Hear are the sounds of a community in celebration. Put on headphones and listen closely. You’ll hear the laughter of friends seeing old friends. You might hear the low talking of two older women leaning in close to each other to hear what the other is saying.
On the same track I’ve added the sounds of traditional Scandinavian music being played live in the town square.

This is the sound of a people who know where they have come from. This is the sound of community.


Blogger wilsonian said...

But that's it exactly. So many grow up in screwed up families or no families at all. They know nothing of eating meals together around a table. They know nothing of having a friend, or a home for more than a few months at a time.

Who will invite them in, in their social awkwardness and desperate loneliness? Who will love them into a new way of being?

Not many will.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

You speak a lot of truth, wilsonian, truth i know much of. thank you for that.

Most of my life has been spent in a state of constant transition (from k through 12 I changed schools nearly every year. I was the new kid all the time).

Since graduating high school i have lived and moved more times than i am willing to add up.

And this is the tragedy in it. I have never developed the skills involved in truly "sticking around" one place long enough to be a part of the community.

I have good friends and family who love me deeply scattered across the globe but i do not have a place where i feel truly "at home".

And truth be told i dont know if I ever will. It is because of this feeling of "homelessness" that i am able to perceive what makes life so sweet. i understand what people need to be healthy because i have experienced what it means to be unhealthy first hand.

In reference to your invitation question i'll say this; i'm still waiting to be invited in.

4:07 PM  
Blogger wilsonian said...

I'm sorry you've had to wait so long.

Different circumstances, but I'm waiting too.

5:43 AM  

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