What Makes a Community

As everyone eases into their new fall routines, the weather follows our lead by cooling down with crisp, fresh air as we settle into another amazing school year.

I love the fall and look forward to all of the beautiful trees changing colors as we slowly inch towards cooler months ahead. Fall and winter are also full of ritual festivals and holidays that we celebrate together with family and as a community. (Oh, and I love the cider donuts that spring up everywhere during this time.) Lately, community is a word I ponder a lot in my own person life and also in my school life here at REED.

What makes a community? Is it proximity to each other? A common interest or goal? To me, there are a million ways we can define a community, but really there is one aspect of any community that has to be present in order to make it a true community and that is…compassion.

If we are compassionate to those around us, we immediately create a sense of community where everyone belongs.

Let me share a quick story I heard that really brought home the meaning of community and I’m sure will lift your heart a little more on these crisp fall and winter days to come.

A young man with autism was working with his life coach to help him navigate the public bus so he could get to his new job. Every day for weeks the young man and his job coach would board the bus with many of the same commuters on their way to their various jobs. Every week the job coach would sit farther and farther away from the young man so that he could eventually learn to ride the bus on his own. One week, two high school students boarded the bus and started to taunt the young man by blurting out hurtful insults. The job coach was about to step in when one of the commuters stepped in first, “He has autism, what is wrong with you two?” he said, “Don’t you have any compassion for other people?” The two students sat in silence for the rest of the ride as the other commuters glared at them. 

This story aptly shows how we can all learn to be a “compassionate community” together. Whether we are on public transportation, at a grocery store, doctor’s office or just walking around our neighborhoods we can all participate in “compassionate community” behavior. It means being inclusive, caring for those around us and expecting them to care about us. I guess the age old adage still applies and we can all be reminded to, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

I live by this motto and love this story because it proves that we can always create “compassionate community” even when we think we are just sitting on a bus with strangers.

Happy Fall,
Jill

As always, please feel free to share your “compassionate community” stories, we would love to hear from you.