Saturday, December 13, 2014

Insight - The culture of community

Every community has a way to identify themselves. Be it though their news, services or festivals. What do we want Windham to be known for? 
Just before Thanksgiving I was reintroduced to a man that I went to high school with in Connecticut. He was a year ahead of me and I vaguely remembered him, but after inspecting my junior year book I found a picture of the two of us standing next to one another in the creative writing club. 

As we reminisced about people we knew and what they have been doing since graduation (he still lives in that area.) The conversation turned around to my need to volunteer for organizations. I love to be involved in different groups and have as far back as I can remember. This man said that he had had that same compulsion to volunteer. 

That was when he said that it was a thing at our high school. Volunteering was in the culture of the school. Everyone did it and it carried on through their lives. Obviously not everyone did it because the clubs weren’t all full and we didn’t have a volunteer hour requirement, but there was something at that school that created volunteers. Being busy and helping the community is a wonderful thing. 

In a conversation with a town official this afternoon, we spoke about budgets, road repair, taxes and then we talked about fun. Living in a community that’s fun - that makes people happy to live in Windham is almost as important as making sure the trash is collected weekly. 

My example of the fun in Windham was ponying up the money for the lights all around town. Having the lights has been expensive this year, but they make us smile when we see them. My son has commented how excited he has been for Christmas since Thanksgiving when the lights went on. 

Other creative ideas that draw the community into our local businesses create a sense of fun and joyfulness and add to the pride we feel about living in Windham. 

When community members have more of a say in their town, the town wins. Windham is changing. It’s a slow snail’s pace, but it is happening. And citizens can choose to be vocal and help to steer the course or can sit back and let change happen to them. Transparency is going to be proposed soon and the town council will want our opinions. Will you step up?

Twenty plus years later, my Connecticut high school is known for its volunteer mentality. 

What will Windham’s legacy be? What will people say when they move in or out of Windham? 

-Michelle Libby

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