So what makes up a great community? Is it the architecture? The people? The scenery? The gathering places? When I was a little girl growing up in the Maritimes, it was the park at the end of the street, where we had an ice rink in the winter; the local church, where we had Brownies; the public school I went to; and our favourite gathering place, the beach, where we went to boil the clams we’d dug that day.
I think about what was important back then and it was the sense that you lived in a safe place with nice people. I don’t think it’s much different now, but what has changed is where those places can be found. As the prevalence of online communities continues to grow, this question becomes more relevant and worth reflecting upon. In fact, the notion of community itself seems to have changed due to the growth of social media platforms. Many wonder whether the loss of a “real’ connection in online communities makes them inferior. Have we lost the ability to form communities in the real world and be able to touch each other physically? I don’t think so, but it’s a question worth asking.
The internet seems to have the potential to widen our communities and grow them in new and positive ways. Sure there are problems and we can’t forget their limitations, but there are advantages. Issues which might normally impede the formation of communities such as race, socio-economic status or culture can be more easily overcome in online communities. A great example is a Vancouver-based company called Curatio – “the world’s first social health prescription.” It’s a mobile health platform that connects individuals with chronic health issues to a circle of support, including family, friends, caregivers and medical professionals, with a goal of better managing ongoing treatment and wellness. Now that’s the power of social networking! I’m certain we can learn from both types of communities – exploring and embracing the possibilities of each.
So as you sit down and enjoy another issue of Seaside Magazine, tell us what you think makes up a great community. Don’t be shy: we welcome your ideas, comments and questions. We would love to hear from you!