Community Spirit and Saying Hello

Community Spirit

In the olden days, pre and post-war, ‘community spirit’ was alive; everyone in a neighbourhood knew each other and would communicate openly. House doors were left unlocked, even open. People came and went into each others’ domains.

This may be a memory through rose-tinted glasses by those old enough to remember it but if this was the case then why does it not exist any more?

This community spirit does not exist (or not very often) in the modern world; a world in which the working day blends with relaxation time, a world which allows us digital access 24/7 and a world in which neighbours rarely speak to each other or know each others’ names, never mind visit each other.

We have recently joined the Caravan Club, a community of like-minded people who enjoy travelling to different locations, spending time outdoors and having a simpler life. But is ‘community’ the right word to describe this group of people? Whilst there is a shared interest, the transient nature of caravanning does not allow a true community spirit to build up (or so it seems to us).

A Caravan Club site can feel more like an estate of houses. The pitch is the plot of land, the awning is the extension and hedges or wind breakers act as borders. People naturally gravitate around their caravan, their base, their home.

Sure, our Elddis Xplore 574 is our moveable home (and a very nice one too – it has all the mod cons and facilities), but we are seeing it as more than that; we are seeing it as the vehicle (kind of literally) through which to promote positive community values.  We think it is a shame that sites can feel like a home from home for people, instead of an opportunity for people to feel and act as if they part of a community – a real community of the past.

So, how can we build up a community spirit? Children naturally begin conversations and form friendships whereas adults, especially British adults, tend to be more insular. The Brits seem to want to keep themselves to themselves a lot of the time. Is it because it is easier to lower your eyes and turn your head to avoid starting a conversation or acknowledge someone than making the effort of smiling or saying hello? Is there a fear of feeling humiliated from an unreciprocated salutation? Is it because of cultural conditioning? Who knows?

Saying Hello

What we do know is that saying ‘Hello’ doesn’t cost anything and it is therefore the least we should be doing.  This is what we say and model to Amy and Ella. So, a simple nod of the head, smile or hello can be a start. If it leads to a conversation all the better. Both parties will feel better for it.

“Think of strangers as friends you don’t already know.” (Dave Cornthwaite)

So, go on, go outside and say ‘Hello’ to someone new; you might be pleasantly surprised.