what does community look like?
“I no longer see community as a safe place, or as a specific structure. I think of it as an attitude and a process. It is understanding and practicing interdependence, recognizing that we need one another for everything that makes life worthwhile and even for survival itself.” – Arthur Gladstone
I an attempt to understand what community looks like and means to me, I drew this little diagram*. In the middle: me! And radiating out are my various intersecting and overlapping communities, and the people who make them.
My yoga community is bunched up in the bottom part ~ it’s made up of rad’a (the space where I teach, in the former ascent headquarters), the Montréal Anusara crew, Yasodhara Ashram (where I lived and studied for 2 years) and “Mtl yogis” (which refers to other yogi friends in town who don’t fit in the previous categories). In reality, these spheres intersect and overlap, rather than function independently. “Former ascent staff,” my beloved friends and co-workers at the magazine, are tangental to my yoga scene ~ and still, happily, part of my life. “MEM yoga” is another teaching space, at the Mile End Mission in my neighbourhood.
I’ve drawn a line from “MEM yoga” to a big cluster in the top corner, which represents my physical neighbourhood, Mile End. Most of my social and community action happens in my lively ‘hood, and it plays a big role in my life. Definitely, my sense of belonging and connection comes from my location. It’s the little things, like bumping into people at the cafe or the fruiterie, which create feelings of community on a daily basis.
Up in the top left is my blog, and the joyous little online community that has sprung up around it’s all yoga, baby. The participators and active commentors such as Linda-sama, Bob W, EcoYogini and Montréal yogi/blogger Adriana (who I’ve never even met in RL, even though she lives just a few blocks from me) are the heart of this community. And spiraling out from there are the “global internet yogis,” who stop by on their interweb meanderings (I know you’re out there, thanks to Google Analytics!).
Other aspects of my community world are my family and hometown friends in BC, my boyfriend, my knitter friends, my pan-Canadian writing friends ~ and my cats! Now that I am a Person-Who-Works-From-Home, my cats Qyogi and Kaiser are my co-workers (and I’m glad they’re not my employees, because they’re rather lazy and I’d have to fire them). They’ve taught me so much about interdependence (and love, and service, and fun), and they make my life, my single apartment-dwelling urban life, more worthwhile and enjoyable.
* Adapted from Carolyn Shaffer’s book, Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World.