WHAT IS COMMUNITY
For some reason the other day I was driving and my thoughts about community started blasting in my head. I was thinking how we use the word community, what it means to me and what I think makes up a great community. I have said many times that I love the community that I live in. My sense of community first started when my kids started school and I involved myself in many different aspects of their school life. First in Toronto and then when we moved here. My second time that I really understood community was when I decided to have a business in the Quinte region.
photo: City of Quinte West, Sarah Keelan-Bishop
First, having a great community is not the responsibility of our municipal government. It is the responsibility of each and everyone one of us that live here. When I say I love the community I live in its because I have connected with many of the people here. I have done this in many ways. Earlier on it was by attending my kids events and getting to know other families through this. It is also by supporting other businesses in the Quinte region, getting to know the owners and the staff so when I walk in there is always a great conversation or just a friendly hello, how are you today. I am so fortunate to have my own business where I can make my own connections with people everyday.
To build a great community it is about us supporting each other and helping each other. Here is an example. Barb about 5 years ago starts to see Shannon my daughter who was running a part time spa business in the store. Barb starts shopping at the store. We get to know each other. We talk about everything under the sun. We talk about our health and fitness. I introduce her to Derek my personal trainer who is awesome, she starts working out with him. Barb is friends with Mike a retired veterinarian in our community. Mike also trains with Derek. Derek is also a musician and plays once a month generally at a local pub. Mike brings Barb and her husband to listen to Derek and his dad Robert play. They used to play at The Port when it was open now you can find them at These 4 Walls a great new art gallery and entertainment venue downtown Trenton. We now all meet up at the gallery to hear Derek and Robert play. Oh, and Barb has told countless people about Shannon and her spa and our store adding to our businesses. Shannon is 26 and is now a full time entrepreneur running her own spa here. This is one example of people in a community connecting, getting to know each other and making our community a great place.
That story is what community is all about. And I know there are 10’s of thousands of those stories in our area. I see red when I hear someone say “we don’t have any stores in Trenton worth shopping at”, “there is nothing to do in Trenton” and so on. These people are not helping our community thrive. If you want stores, shop at the ones we have and I can guarantee you that there will be more opening up. Look at what Erin and Adam have done with the Trenton deli, from hard work and support from the community. They went from a small deli to a full out European grocery store with their own bakery. I am sure they would tell us that its was lots of hard work, a vision that they were willing to take a risk on and lots of community support both shopping there and people telling others that you need to check them out. What they have done and what our community has done to support them is what makes us a great community.
Community is about getting to know others in your community. It doesn’t mean you need a deep personal connection, it just means take in one of the concerts downtown in the summer, talk to the other people attending, let them know other events you have attended and loved. There are amazing conversations I have had in and out of the store with people that I may not see again and there are people who keep coming back and we continue to get to know each other better and talk about things that we love here.
Photo: City of Quinte West
So to me, community is about connections and it is each of our individual responsibilities to make those connections, not some governing body to magical have a formula for “community” and execute it. If we try to think of the little things each of us can do in the Quinte region we will continue to grow an amazing community.