It’s the end of my week here at Holler, and I’d like to take a moment to reflect on something I feel is really important: Community. I grew up in the 1970s, and I definitely felt more of a sense of community when I was younger. It makes me wonder: How have we as humans convinced ourselves over time that individualism is stronger than collectivism? When did this form of thought begin? Was it in the Industrial Era, when we were forced to move away from an agrarian society? Perhaps it is due to advancements in technology, with inventions like the radio, television, and the Internet forcing humans to slowly cut ties from their communities and focus only on their individual interests. When we do this, our entire community becomes manipulated by entities like corporations that want to make money off of what we want or politicians whose interests do not align with those of the people they are supposed to represent. It’s not something I have the answers to, but that I think about a lot.
When the world is in crisis, we do not turn to our world leaders–we turn to our community. That’s why it is so important for communities to have block parties, potlucks, farmers markets, and other events for themselves. The West Asheville Tailgate Market is such a great example of this. Here, we can hang out with our neighbors or buy food directly from local farmers and other food vendors. When a community connects like this, all of sudden we are not afraid of one another. We can understand each other more, and fewer of us become marginalized.
This kind of familiarity allows someone like Joe from Mills River not only to sell his eggs, chickens, and ghee, but also to cross paths with a diverse group of people that includes me, an Indian woman with a disability. A community where everyone interacts with each other creates bonds so powerful that nobody–not corporations, not politicians–can break them.