By Michelle A. Brown

We each have our own personal daily rhythm, which is a source of comfort and enjoyment to us. During the last several months, due to our state’s stay-at-home advisory and social distancing orders, we have experienced disruption in our routines and decreased face-to -face contact with family, friends, and neighbors. Consequently, we may sense a loss of interpersonal connection and feel isolated and lonely. It is helpful and reassuring to recognize that these losses are merely perceived. Our communities are still intact, just temporarily unable to assemble in their usual places. All our friends and loved ones are there for us, as always, and they need us as much as we need them. It is important to remember the organizations we enjoy are still there too.  In fact, they are reaching out to connect with us through websites, e-mails, and apps, among other things. Like them, we can develop creative new ways to reach out and connect with people and communities that are important to us.

Community is a deep sense of belonging. Communities flourish when like-minded individuals understand and appreciate each other, recognize everyone’s contributions and unique gifts, and encourage and share passions. Many of us associate communities with physical places: a family in a house, a congregation at a church, volunteers in a museum, members at a gym, etc.  It is important recognize that a community is a group of like-minded people – it is not a building, not a physical location. These communities exist because members support one another, even outside of the buildings they typically occupy.

There are many types of communities. Here are a few examples:

  • Families
  • Art communities
  • Music communities
  • Museum communities
  • Gym/Athletic communities

Through virtual video chat platforms like Google Meet, Skype, Facetime and Zoom, we can continue to connect with communities that are important to us. There are many easy and fun ways to “get together” and do things with people. For example:

  • Making plans to watch a movie or TV show at the same time as friends, and then talk about it afterwards
  • Setting up a time for your band’s members to practice together
  • Scheduling virtual activities or meeting-ups (often using the same process as scheduling a face-to-face group)… You may see even more people attending virtual events, because there’s no commute involved!

Other, community-based benefits come from virtual platforms. Museums are offering virtual tours, gyms are sharing free online workouts, musicians are offering free solo performances and concerts, and classes on music, meditation, and art are now available on-line. Most importantly, calling family and friends on the phone and talking with them is a great opportunity to connect; hearing a familiar voice is really nice.

Your community is still there!  Reach out and connect!

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