Cambridge dictionary’s definition of “community” depicts this to be a people living in the same area or made unit by heritage, social group or common interest.As theoretically beautiful as that may sound, I feel this definition fails to account the core intangible’s that drive a community’s makeup.
As someone who has moved around a fair bit in recent years, I have gained some valuable insight into the foundations of the community. The best way I can illustrate this knowledge is by recanting my fondest memory on how I came to know my community; south London.
“when I was around 17/18, I moved from Manchester to London, My whole move being sporadic and extremely erratic, but we digress. Coming from aa setup where my most used mode of transport was the bus. Upon arrival, I was in awe of the speed and efficiency of TFL (before any one kicks off. I’ve heard you, Your train was delayed 5 mins now you are late, a real travesty) Taking a moment to appreciate the way individuals moved so seamlessly between themselves and barriers”.
I could not have been stationery for more than 2 minutes until I briefly locked gazes with this middle-aged man. He took a quick look at me and then proceeded to scream aggressively “What are you looking at?” In a frenzy, I quickly picked up my suitcase and scurried out of the station.
On my way out of the station, I could not help but reflect on what had just happened. The initial shock had left my body and I was over the incident with the man, however, what still perplexed me is the reaction of bystanders. In a packed train station in the middle of the day not a single soul turned to see what the commotion was, some even seemed fed up or annoyed by what looked like an attack. Were people so used to these outbursts or did they genuinely not care? I later came to find that it was both.
Since this day, I have encountered or been a part of scenarios similar to this which have sharpened my grasp on the makeup of my community. Community is not just your associations, it is an aura, vibe and swagger people have to them, Its that Je ne se quois, you can’t quite see it but you know it’s there.
Living and being an active member in south London for these past few years, the best word I can use to describe the energy behind our community is directness. This directness made the man jump down my throat when I stared too long, he could tell I was not a member of his community.
At the risk of painting everyone with the same brush, I must say not all people from south London are as combative as the gentlemen in my story.
Directness is not always a negative thing, I love how directness of the people in south London allows them to be confident in themselves and their situation.
This directness stretches beyond the people you see on a day to day basis in the area. You can feel it from the elders, kids, local characters and even pigeons. This intrinsic feeling of community is unique to every place and situation you find yourself at.
Overall a community is more than the definition it’s a way of life which resides in a spot between your attitude and soul. Often you may see a group of friends, all from different countries and areas however when they unite together it is as great as a community. This shows the integral aspect of the community is who you are and where you fit in; mentally, spiritually and sonically.