It’s something that at one time was considered inherent, amongst areas that were culturally and racially homogenous: that people would group together and form communities. Yet, both an increasing trend towards the metro areas and the increasing alienation from society caused by digital media have been seeing the breakdown of communities in a number of ways.
So, how are Latino communities are surviving in an age where the very concept of community seems to be under threat. Part of being a good man, or person, for that matter means contributing to your community in some form or fashion. So, what we can you do to help the concept of community survive into the modern age?
Open a Broad Church
Tribalism has become an increasing problem, in large part thanks to increasing political polarization, as well as the mostly online creation of sealed bubbles, communities where people of a certain mindset don’t need to experience the ideas of beliefs of other groups of people.
A break down of the melding pot could be considered to be happening too. Communities built around a specific identity, be it Mexican, Dominican, are still present, however, not as prevalent as they once were. The Latino identity itself is one that’s not entirely monolithic. Yet, rather than being something to lament, however, it cab be an opportunity to bond people of different specific communities that’s needed to make a formidable bloc that can genuinely influence the quality of life in our local communities.
Find Good Examples to Rally Around
Finding accomplished and well-meaning people in your area and of your background to support and emulate can most certainly result in the good for the whole. First of all, if they have community or political goals, it gives the community someone to rally behind. It also gives younger people in the community examples of role models to look up to.
There is no shortage of role models in our Latino communities. From political stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to dedicated volunteering effort and public service leaders like Cynthia Telles, there are plenty of people we can look to for direction and inspiration. Talking about the successes of people like these from our own communities can help build the sense of community pride and purpose that many may find is missing.
Get Active & Learn About What Ails Your Community
A community isn’t only a loose group of people who say hi to each other on the streets or who have a vague sense of shared identity. There have to be real, tangible connections there. As such, communities often work best when they are motivated to solve the problems within that community.
Volunteering your time to community projects, whether it’s to help clean up local parks and shared spaces, to provide help to the homeless, to offer companionship to the elderly, mentor younger students and the like, is one way to get involved in a sense of local community.
You can also look at joining local structures of power, such as councils, to better represent the needs of your community and have them addressed where they might not have any voice. If you think your community needs a voice to stand for it, then running for office might just be what you need to do.
Help Where You Can
Community togetherness doesn’t always have to be so formal. One purpose of community is to make sure that those who are at risk of falling into hard times have help they can rely on. The understanding is that, should the same happen to any other member of the community, then the rest would come together to help them.
Supporting local businesses and getting involved as a volunteer in your community is a perfect example of how to support and help in an everyday way. However, you should also pay attention to more specific circumstances where neighbors might need a little help.
Setting up a GoFundMe, for instance, in the case of an accident or fire can make a very tangible difference in the lives of individuals in the community. It also brings that sense of community spirit together.
Attend Meetings in the Community
There’s a very good chance that your community already has some kind of formally organized body that looks at the problems affecting the area. More often than not, the greatest problem facing these groups is a lack of engagement from new members. By getting involved, not only can you get a better idea of what the community is lacking, but you’re helping to strengthen these groups so that they become much stronger advocates for the people who are living there.
If you have political or activist aims, these community meetings are a good place to get to know how to negotiate, compromise, and find common ground with people, even those who may seem very different. Just be ready to tolerate a lot of bureaucracy.
Be Kind to a Neighbor
There’s also a very good chance that there is an individual in your neighborhood who could be the prime example of someone who needs the help of the community. Whether it’s a young single mother of a toddler who needs help after a storm, a student, or an older person who lives alone who has no company, you can always find those who can use a little help from a neighbor.
Helping out individuals might seem like a small thing, but little by little, this is what creates the bonds that communities are formed out of in the first place.
Communities need a group effort to survive and thrive, but you should never underestimate the ability of one or a small number of dedicated people to serve as the very first stone in the foundation that supports the rest of that community. A lot of people are rightly concerned about the social fabric that holds our neighborhoods and our country together, but it’s not an unravelling that we simply have to sit back and watch.
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