I’ve been debating the true meaning of community a lot lately. Wondering what it really is, what makes a community, how they are kept together. So I Googled it, and the first result was the TV show Community. Well I guess I should have expected that. Good show, starring Joel McHale, about going to community college after years of working with a “fake” degree. They form their own sense of community in that show.

Cast of Community, photo courtesy of NBC.

The next relevant search result was the Mill Avenue District in Downtown, Tempe, down the street from where I currently reside. There is a big ad stating that there are over 10,000 parking spots in Downtown, Tempe; I feel that this is a lie. They must be considering they’re overpriced parking garage. Good news though: they finally got with the 21st century and put in solar powered card reading devices on the parking meters. As I have stated before, parking meters are like medieval torture devices. Why are we STILL being forced to dig around for change when all we use now is plastic? Thank you Tempe for taking the initiative to end the torment! Now if Phoenix would get with the program as well; a card reader could have saved me a $39 parking ticket. I know you’re trying to pull us out of the budget deficit but maybe, just maybe, making it easier for people to go spend money Downtown, would be a better idea.

Well, back to this community thing. I have read varied opinions on the state of Tempe’s community development, mostly that they aren’t trying hard enough. They have their efforts like the Tempe Arts Festival. Let’s face it, when you think of Downtown Tempe, you think of going out and getting sh@t-faced on Mill Ave. Now, while that is usually a good time, that’s not a community; unless you consider all the drunken college kids a community.

A good example of community in Arizona would be the efforts put forth by the Roosevelt Row organization. Creating a district in the heart of Downtown Phoenix that revolves around localized businesses and the artistic talents of the locals is a great way to build community. When I see the people that live Downtown, they seem to have more of a connectedness then in the other parts of the valley. I admire this. I wish I could find more of this in Tempe, or even if it was in existence when I lived in Mesa. Glendale at least has an entire downtown area that has thriving antique stores and there used to be a crafts fair every Saturday, along with festivals such as Glendale Glitters, Chocolate Affaire, and summer concert series.

Since our cities leave much to be desired about community, I asked a friend what he thought, and he told me about the old “Scene” days in the music genre he was into. Going to the Nile on the weekends and paying $10 to see 10 hardcore bands brought them a sense of community. I wish I had not missed out on that. Down side to growing up in Glendale, virtually NO all ages venues on the West side. When I did in fact start going to concerts on a regular basis it seems as if the “scene” was more about being seen and looking cool, not so much about the community of fans coming together to enjoy music.

So the question is: What is community, how do we create it and cultivate it, and where has the disconnect come from?

This is me NOT writing my business plan that is due on Monday, by the way. SO if you would like to help your favorite blogger out, leave me a comment telling me what you think about community, the one you live in, or an example of community that you have found.



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