As we all know, 2020 has been chaotic, to say the least. From wildfires in Australia, to the use of the Greek alphabet to name hurricanes (not to mention a pandemic, election…), there has not been a single moment which has remotely resembled “calm.” Yet, in the middle of this crazy year, the one consistency in my life has been community.
So what exactly is community, and why are we talking about it here? According to the Oxford Dictionary, community is:
1.) A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, and
2.) A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
For me, community is more closely linked to the second definition. When a pandemic has limited our exploration to small spaces, interaction to small groups, and communication from afar, it is our sustained connections that bring and keep us together. While it sounds counterintuitive, bringing people together in the midst of a crisis has infinite and limitless rewards, especially when bringing people together can feel so impossible.
Just last Saturday, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons gained its 50th supporting country (Honduras), which means it will go into effect on an international scale on January 22, 2021. This officially makes nuclear weapons illegal, and it was accomplished during a crisis unlike any other. While the vast majority of the public was unaware of this coalition, the motives that brought 50 countries together cannot be overlooked. They had an awareness of large scale inequities and shared a desire to cultivate a better world. That is what sustainability is all about, and it could not have been possible without collaboration and community.
Not only is community represented on a global scale, but it can be seen every day in your actions and interactions. For me, the development of Central Sustainability has helped Teresa and I build a community with one another, with our networks and partners. We share a passion for sustainability, solutions, and dialogue that opens perspectives and even changes perceptions.
Sustainability has no boundaries, and therefore can be a part of anyone’s life. Moving forward, we will be highlighting community members and groups who care about building a sustainable world through innovative and individualistic approaches. Whether you are a student, staff, faculty or community member, you have the potential to make a difference.
So, as we enter the last stretch of this long and overwhelming year, think about the people and groups who are there for you. Where do you feel at home, and who makes you feel at home? Who sustains you? Because that is what sustainability is all about – community. How do you create genuine communities? And who is your community?