Last year during lockdown, we were unable to get out of a 5 kilometre radius from our home due to restrictions and curfews to prevent the spread of the virus.
Having this restriction for some months made me realise a lot of things about the friendships and relationships I have with my local community, neighbours and family.
Namely, I have none.
This was a real eye opener in many ways. It made me think that I had spent nurturing relationships with people who were living in other states and countries at the expense of my own neighbours.
As my family was beyond the 5km radius and who I see often, it made me think about how my priorities were all skewed. What was my connection to my community?
In years past, I was an active member of community groups in particular I was a Rotaractor (18-30 year old Rotarian) as well as spent many years – most of my 30-40s as a Rotarian. During those years, I had many people – fellow club members – who I got to know and who were working and living in the local area who I could call upon.
However as my corporate life got busy and as members were ageing, I felt it was time for me to move on. As a result since then, my community service fell by the wayside and with it, all connections to my local community.
Lockdown was a time of reflection for me and it brought up this sense of disconnection and isolation I had been experiencing from my own local community. After all, I live and now work from home. Shouldn’t I have more of a connection with it than say, the people on my social media networks many of whom are scattered all over the world but don’t share the same “sense of place – MY place – OUR place”.
As such I turned to my husband and said that in an effort to get back into the community, I will find different local events and activities that we could do every week or so which would mean us getting out of the house, meeting people beyond close family members and making new friends who happen to be local. (All our friends live interstate). It would also be fun to do a shared activity or experience together that is different to just going to a restaurant or watching tv together.
So last night I booked ourselves to a Barefoot Bowls, Burgers and Beers at the local bowling club. It was such great fun! People and families of all ages rocked up and were put in groups to mingle and play for a couple of hours then a BBQ put on where we could eat. It was a perfect summer evening and lots of smiles all around. There’s something nice speaking to people who also live in the same area. A shared connection. We also got to learn about a new potential sport we can get involved with.
So with the weather improving now, I’m on the lookout for more activities we can do to enjoy our local spaces and places and to move away from just my networks and connections to be online ones or interstate and international ones. After all, if it’s one thing that lockdown has taught me is that our online life and our work has obliterated “place” and made it irrelevant and unimportant and I think this is wrong.
An aboriginal elder during our cultural awareness training two weeks ago mentioned to us about the importance of country and place as being the “earth beneath your feet”. That is your place. That is your country.
That hit home for me. After all these years of an online life and online work, I want to feel grounded to the place where my feet are. I need to have a sense of place in this world. That place is a connection to my local community.