“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community,” by William James.
I’ve been trying to put into words why our town spends 30 percent of its budget on welfare? Why we have the highest taxes for a city in the US? Why so many wrinkle up their nose or seem to be embarrassed that they are from Fulton?
When I read the above quote it made sense to me. During the depression we were known as the town the depression missed. We had so many factories — we were actually hiring. Our identity was wrapped around the factories — not individuals. And now those factories have moved on — we are left without an identity. Growing up I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to walk downtown by myself. We had lots of shops and restaurants all housed in architecturally interesting buildings — each had an individual flare and purpose. And then urban renewal came to town — most of those beautiful buildings were razed to the ground to make room for progress. Square cement or brick buildings were built — the shops moved out and I only go downtown to go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays that is held in the parking lot. You have to look at the signs to know where you’re going because individuality was forced out and a sense of community with it. The same thing has happened with our schools. The state and federal governments have tried to standardize everything and everybody. No individuals, therefore, no community. And people wonder why teachers and students are stressed. Why our graduation rate is so low. We are one of two cities in NY state who may receive state money to revive our community. I wonder how successful it will be. We MUST follow THEIR recommendations. No individual impulse. No sense of community. No understanding of what makes Fulton unique. I have my fingers crossed that they will talk to the people of this town — that the individual impulse will not be lost.
I have seen many interesting things started in Fulton and then die off. I now understand how important it is to start with the individual.But without a sense of community the impulse will not receive the energy it needs to survive and thrive. Whether you define community as: family, city, school, work, marriage… if your community seems to be stagnate, I have a few suggestions.
Whether you are the boss making decisions for your employees or a parent for your children or a principal for staff and students — include employees/children/students/staff in the decision-making progress. The impulse should come from them and the “boss” should build the sense of community around the individuals.
When you’re trying to build a sense of community — only deal with the people who are passionate about what you are doing. I would rather work with one or two passionate people on a project then twenty naysayers. Eventually some of those naysayers may become passionate about the project too.
Enjoy and support the other individuals in your “community”. Whether it is planting a community garden or helping your child clean their room or picking up litter. Enjoy the companionship of the other person(s) — enjoy the wonder of what you’ve built or accomplished.
What do you think makes for a good sense of community?