creating a village life (in 2014)

I’ve been thinking about this article all week. It popped up in my Twitter feed on Tuesday afternoon, and I have to tell you that I wondered if Bunmi broke into my home and stole my journal when I read this part:

I miss that village of mothers that I’ve never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone’s throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones.

Afternoons alone playing one-on-one? Check.

Locked front door and blinking devices? Check.

Feeling miles apart from people who live a stone’s throw? Check check.

I know the danger here of romanticizing a time I don’t really know, mistaking longing for nostalgia (or an unhealthy dose of both). But I must admit that I’ve felt all of this lately. I don’t think it’s geographically centered, or that it has to do with my neighborhood or city or where I live. I think it has to do with me, when I’m painfully honest. I think it has to do with all of us who grew up finding community online and forgot to put down our phones/computers/iPads/whatevers to find community in the real faces we pass by every day.

Case in point: my neighbor followed me on Twitter a few months ago (hi, Jessica!) and I had a strange reaction. My first thought was, “Now my neighbor knows so much about me!”

Y’all.

Do I even need to tell you that my own thoughts stopped me in my tracks? Since when was it possible for people who live thousands of miles away to know more about me than ones who live within ten feet?

I don’t have very many answers, but I’m seeking. I agree with Donald Miller when he says that when a consumer longs for community, he or she goes looking for a place to plug in or “sign up,” but when a creator longs for community, he or she invites neighbors over for dinner, puts up a screen in his backyard, or starts something new. Although I’d like to think I’m more on the creator side of life, in this area–lately–I think I’ve fallen more on the consumer side.

What an odd little world we’ve created for ourselves. We’re more connected and lonelier than ever. I want to, as my friend Mandy Smith said, work every day to weave this longing for “the village” back into this strange world we’ve made.

I’d love to learn from you, friends. If you’re experiencing (or creating) this village existence in 2014, how have you managed to do it when (most) of your local friends live at least 20 minutes away? What steps have you taken to create real, face-to-face community in this digital world we’ve created?

2 thoughts on “creating a village life (in 2014)

  1. I raised my daughter in a village before the term was used. Here are some suggestions:
    1. Start a babysitting coop. You make the rules. You invite the families. I did it with a group of moms and we sat down over lunch with our kids crawling between our legs and decided what was important. We worked a point system and and traded our kids on the point system. If you ran out of points you couldn’t leave your kid until you had watched someone else s child. It cost us nothing. We all got to get out whether by ourselves or with our spouse. Our kids had playmates and we knew where they were and that they were safe.
    2. Start a moms bible study or support group or coffee hour. I got together with a group of moms and studied the bible, drank coffee, laughed and cried together. Our kids played in the same room or we found a grandmotherly lady that would watch the kids while we were in the other room. Summers were easy the kids played outside with a teenager and we could talk uninterrupted in the house.
    3. I invited the neighbor mom who stayed at home over for lunch. Often the kids took naps together so we could chat.
    4. I found another family that had an equal number of kids. Once a month we traded. We kept theirs and the next month they kept ours. As the kids got older we made it overnight.

    My daughter is still friends with these other kids and moms. More than once when she needed sound advice and couldn’t reach me she called one of these other moms. The village works but you have to find your village and be willing to make yourself vulnerable. I hope that some of these suggestions help.

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