Dec 7: Community Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
We live about a mile west of a small town, about eight miles from the nearest town of size, and 50 miles from Tulsa, where I work and where we sell most of the farm's products. I work in the office 4 days per week and from home one. Our days are bracketed by the chores we do to care for the animals. Rain or shine, snow or heat, the goats have to be milked and the animals fed and watered.
As a result, it's hard for us to be spontaneous with friends. A quick decision at 3:00 in the afternoon to go out to dinner means we have to drop whatever we're doing, do chores, shower, and drive into town, making it a good 7:00 before we can sit down to eat. If we get the invitation any later than that or we're in the middle of something we can't drop when the call comes, we can't make it. And even with planning, we have to limit the number of times we accept such invitations because of the cost to go into town and the time involved to do it.
All of this is to say, participating in community is something that remains a challenge on the farm. Lisa warned me when we first got together that I would need to be very intentional about socializing and doing things that would get me off the farm. Without that intention, the farm becomes isolating and lonely. The warning is a good one for me. I am, by nature, quite comfortable being alone and would consider my "community time" needs to be low, but I do have them and perhaps more importantly, participating in community isn't all about me. :)
The move to the farm has meant a shift in where I most experience community. I have found relationships at work deepening. I love the people I work with and enjoy regular lunchtime conversation and banter in the student commons. The casual or sometimes more serious conversation that happens when people come to get chocolate from my desk and sit down to visit are a treat as well. I'm grateful to work in a place that values community to the extent that such connections are encouraged.
Beyond work, Lisa and I have found a circle of friends who have similar interests in farming or animal care and live relatively close to us, making it much easier to plan things together. And these are people who are more involved in our lives (and we theirs) than just the occasional lunch or dinner together. We call on each other when there are needs to be met or when support is important.
This is a hard prompt for me to respond to in a public space. I acknowledge some unresolved grief and perhaps even a little guilt (though I'm not sure it's justified) about the way in which where I find community has shifted this year. I worry that I've abandoned a group of friends from the pre-farm days, though I realize it's unrealistic to expect that the huge changes moving to the farm brought about in my daily life would mean those relationships wouldn't also change. For awhile, Facebook felt like a way to remain connected, but without common experiences on a regular basis it has became harder at times to follow what's going on through Facebook. I know that some of my habits (I hate to make phone calls, for example) contribute to the way this changed, but I also know that some of what's happened is a natural shifting. It's all, I guess, an area of my life which could use a good bit more reflection and attention, perhaps in an effort to find some way to resolve the uneasiness about how the change came about.