Getting to Know the Community of Oak Bay. What is a community?

I’ve lived in Oak Bay for almost 5 ½ years. It’s my still new ‘home’, and I expect to die here, so I certainly have a vested interest in getting to know and feeling deeply embedded here.

The community has attracted my wife and me for many years. Before moving here, we were regular visitors for more than 40 years, and the visits were sometimes extended. Until they died, my parents lived in Oak Bay. My siblings live here, or within 30 miles of here. Over the years we have made friends and become very familiar with the Salish Sea, the topography, the climate, the history and heritage, the roads and walkways, the services and amenities. The walk-ability score where we live is 97/100 – almost impossible to beat.

Yet, getting embedded has been, and continues to be, a struggle. The reasons for the struggle are diverse, and I turn them over in my mind because I value community. I’m constantly thinking about what a community is, and what contributes to the sense of community. A sense of community is a precondition of the sense of belonging.

For me, a sense of community has four aspects. (1) The people who think of themselves as being ‘of a community’ have a strong sense that “we are all in this all together.” (2) They have a strong sense of what ‘this’ is: there is a strong sense of an important common project in the service of others. (3) The people who think of themselves as being of a community have a strong sense of place. They relate to the ground beneath them, and the water, and feel the responsibility of stewardship. (4) They have rich webs of relationship and share extensive knowledge about the history, condition, and prospects of the community.

In your experience or imagination, what are the vital elements of community? Is there any element that is problematic to understanding community? Is there an element that hasn’t yet been identified? Do the elements need further elaboration or qualification?

Are families, clans and tribes essentially the same as communities?

I would be very interested in your comments, critique, and questions.

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