Saturday, January 6, 2007

The I in Community

I've been one of the lucky few in Denver who has had no reason to shovel snow in the past few weeks. I no longer own a car, which eliminates the need to shovel parking spaces or drive ways and I'm a renter, so my property manager takes care of the entry-ways to my building.

But today, for the first time all winter, I picked up a shovel to do some damage control on the rooftop of the building of my friends Christy and Sarah. Our pal Ian came along to help out with the manual labor. I'm not sure why I volunteered except that it was the right thing to do. There was a rather daunting task at hand, one that I knew would be easier for my friends if they had some help, and my only plan for the afternoon was to spend time with them.

Christy and Sarah live in a building with about 10 other condos. Everyone pays HOA dues and everyone is expected to pitch in with these types of building related chores. The problem is, everybody doesn't help: Christy and Sarah have done most of the shoveling. It might be understandable that no one else has pitched in if the girls had just taken the responsibility upon themselves when the first winter storm hit the city, but when the blizzard of '06 struck Denver, Christy and Sarah were in Tahiti. They returned to find the front steps covered in about 4 inches of snow and ice and the back parking lot barely drive-able because no one took the initiative to look out for everyone else's safety.

I made a comment today that I thought it funny that the two girls from Mississippi were the ones to get out and battle the snow accumulation to keep the roof from collapsing in on everyone. Sarah turned to me and said "It's because the girls from Mississippi are the only ones with a sense of community. And that has nothing to do with where we come from."

It got me thinking. What communities do I belong to? What responsiblity do I have to my community? What responsibility does my community have to me?

While reflecting on these questions I realized that they each have multiple answers. I belong to many communites: my apartment building, my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country, and even a larger global community.

Most people have a basic understanding of how to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a good friend. But how often do we live it? Do we invest energy into those around us or do we use them to energize us?

So much of what is wrong in our nation and our world could be solved with a little unity--a little community. Rather than isolating ourselves from the people who live with us, beside us, and around us, perhaps we should reach out and give a little back.

"There is no I in team" we've been told, but there is an I in community. And the truth is, to accomplish anything, we must all sacrifice and focus our energies in the same direction. We'll never achieve peace or prosperity or even a snow-less rooftop unless we each give of ourselves and stand side-by-side as a strong, unified force.

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