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Thread: Where do you find community?

  1. #1

    Default Where do you find community?

    Many people I know find their community, support and friends through church. If you live a secular lifestyle, where do you find yours? I've had a difficult time since we moved to a new city five years ago finding a sense of community, a place to "belong." At various times in my life I've found it in my workplace, through volunteering, and even at my dd's previous school. Now none of those are really options (I work at home and my older dd is in high school). I belong to a couple of moms' groups, but the playgroups have fizzled out as kids have gotten to preschool age and they were mostly about getting kids together anyway. I volunteered a lot at a center for memory-impaired adults before Noe came along, but having a toddler at home I can't do it anymore (and to be honest, I did not find community there, although I did find purpose).

    I've lately found myself a little envious of relatives who are very involved in their churches because of all of the support and cameraderie they have. When dh was watching "Sons of Anarchy" and I found myself feeling envious of the biker gang, however ("They always have so many friends around and they're always helping each other," I sighed to dh) I knew I had to figure something out!

    I grew up involved in church and sometimes I miss the ritualistic aspect of it as much as the community. I've thought of trying out the local Unitarian Universalist congregation to see if it might fit my needs, but dh says he would never go (he didn't grow up with church and doesn't like having to belong to a group of people, plus he gets plenty of community bonding at work) so it would be just me. My parents, who are very devout evangelical Christians, might actually keel over if they knew I was considering it -- I think they'd rather I went to no church at all than to a "false" church. But I'm at a loss for other ways to fill that need. I have hobbies and have tried to meet people to connect with in those ways, but it's very haphazard. I'm looking for something regular. I've even thought about getting an outside job, but that doesn't seem to be something that will work out right now with dh's long hours and the cost of childcare in our area.

    I don't want to have to join a biker gang!
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  2. #2
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    This is going to sound silly, but where I first found community was at the dog park. I used to go everyday, for years together, at the same time, and made some really good friends that I'm still in touch with, although we haven't done the dog park in years. I am passionate about dogs, dog training, behavior, more than a casual owner (I believe), and I belong to an online community of like minded dog people as well. That community has been going strong for over a decade.

    The second, was with gardening. I have gotten away from it quite a bit, but I know that the people I met online first, and later in person (through plant swaps), would welcome me right back.

    Other than the lovely ladies here, I don't really have a lot of mom friends. The ones I met in groups just didn't turn out to be relationships. I'm not really sure why. I have made a couple of friends at DD's school, but ot is pretty casual at this point, and I'm not sure if it can be sustained when our kids go off to school.

    Anyway, I don't really have much to offer, other than to say that maybe following your passion will lead you to the community that you seek. It maybe an online one, but perhaps a member or two or a dozen would turn out to be local, and part of a RL community as well.

  3. #3
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    I have no idea. DH and I have been trying to find it ourselves to no avail. We are part of the UU and it would probably be the best place but it's far and with a fussy infant pretty impossible for us. They just built a new UU fellowship closer to us and we are looking forward to going...someday lol....

    I don't personally consider the UU to be a church but a place for "those leftover" to gather. There were recovering catholics and ex-jews and budding buddhists at ours. Also many who would have been happy to follow their original religion if they had not been cast out or denied such as gays and trans persons.

    There was a lot of discussion about social justice and the environment which I liked. I don't know how they all went together but I guess it just goes along with being responsible and accepting others. I think you would like that part of it and be able to find a community there. It is a shame you don't have the support of your DH or parents, although I had to chuckle at the "fake church" thing because I got that from my mom although she was just happy we found "something".

    Other than the UU I would say start getting involved in things that are important to you or hobbies you enjoy. Eventually you will find a small group of like-minded people .

    I just had an awkward secular moment today picking DD1 up from school because the 2 other moms I was standing with started talking about the "religion homework" and retreats and whatnot. It was awkward because they were complaining about it and I wanted to be like, "man am I glad I don't have to do that crap"! but that didn't really seems appropriate...so I just stood there left out of the conversation instead wit them probably wondering if I was jewish or atheist
    Thing 1 (7), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  4. #4
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    I don't know....should have went with that comment Am! I would have been thinking the same thing.

    It is HARD when you move as an adult. We have been here six years and only just now starting to feel community a bit more. I like the people at work but don't hang out with them outside. I have sort of gone off and on to the local UU church....we were going to one in Milwaukee before we moved and that one I really liked and it was a bit more just hanging out together. The local one here seems to be more religious and most I have chatted with are believers and they are big on ritual. But I still like it....I don't like that it's at 10am on Sunday (our old one was down the street and had an 11am service). It's just hard when you roll over and are all warm in bed to get up and go when it's like 2 outside. LOL

    honestly I get the most sense of community from online friends. And I have started to develop a bit of a friendship with a couple of couples going through the same adoption agency.

    I miss having family in the same town or less than an hour away. I cannot wait until my MIL can retire and move up by us but it might be a few years.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  5. #5
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    3andMe is offline Every day is a gift. It's just... does it have to be a pair of socks? Hopelessly Devoted
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    I have lost the community I had when I first moved out here, and then the few communities I gathered after I lived here for a while, just because I can't maintain them now.

    I actually did belong to a small motorcycle club for a while. We did a road trip to a cabin in Tahoe and even (just for fun) had a pillow fight and talked about boys. We met every Thursday at a motorcycle friendly pizza place in Berkeley and parked our bikes outside and went for rides. I was briefly seen in a documentary once.

    Shoot, I have to clock in, but I'll come back to this later. I'll just add that the only people I ever hang out with at all now besides my family and going to work are my mom friends from APA. You, Demigraf and Krystal5 are the main people I have seen besides my little community of neighbors who are mostly sweet and friendly and the parents I'm starting to meet at my kids' school, who are seeming to be pretty nice.


  6. #6

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    It is really hard in my community. We have a large older population and a lot of snowbirds. It's hard to find families our age. In November, we did check out our local UU church and I really liked it. The childcare room was amazing. The leader was actually someone I knew from La Leche League meetings when my son was an infant. I think I will make an effort to attend and hopefully make some friends.

    What about a book club? or meetup? I never had any luck with those myself, but maybe your area is better.

    I am LOL at your biker comment!!
    Shelley-mom to DS, 6

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    This interested me, so I had to pop in! I work at my church so I don't know what I would do without that kind of community. My daughter also went to the preschool at my church's preschool. I guess I have most of my community stuff at church.

    Right after DD was born I wasn't as involved in church, I was going to classes at the community college and that helped me find friends. You could join a class that meets your interest somewhere, park district or something if community college isn't something you're interested in. I also have met a few people at my gym. When Cameron was not in full day school and we went out and did things like the park or monkey joes I met a few mothers. I never thought about this before, being someone who is religious.

    Hope nobody minded me barging in. I do lurk in here a little because some of the things you guys mention as being part of a secular lifestyle interests me.
    Last edited by CamaLamaMama; 01-08-2013 at 09:11 AM.

  8. #8
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    3andMe is offline Every day is a gift. It's just... does it have to be a pair of socks? Hopelessly Devoted
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    Hey, CamaLamaMama, anyone is welcome to post in here as long as they read the sticky at the beginning about this room and things to know before posting (and even if you didn't, your post was totally fine and added to the discussion, but just something to keep in mind for the future).

    I am on a few minute break at work and wanted to add a few more thoughts. Our area is a huge and diverse area. There are tons of things to do. I think it is much harder as an adult to meet and keep a wide circle of close friends and acquaintances than it was when we were forced into them in school when we were younger, and spent so much time with people, and also now I'm less inclined to go along with things that I'm not interested in just because my friends are doing them.

    So on the one hand, there are places like work, and church, and some clubs (like my multiples club, or some of the motorcycle clubs I've seen--not the one I was in, but some of the ones I saw with a boyfriend) that would not only provide some social benefit but also gather together for a member that needed help. If someone in my twins club had a tragedy, there would be an outpouring of support.

    For any of that to work, there has to be regular attendance, interest, people have to know you. My mom has not tried to join any communities here, but I know in her home state, she was an avid member of the birdwatching community. She could easily pick that up again by going to some of the local bird club meetings, assisting in local bird counts, etc. She has not tried, but I know she hasn't had much time.

    Back later.


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3andMe View Post
    I have lost the community I had when I first moved out here, and then the few communities I gathered after I lived here for a while, just because I can't maintain them now.

    I actually did belong to a small motorcycle club for a while. We did a road trip to a cabin in Tahoe and even (just for fun) had a pillow fight and talked about boys. We met every Thursday at a motorcycle friendly pizza place in Berkeley and parked our bikes outside and went for rides. I was briefly seen in a documentary once.

    Shoot, I have to clock in, but I'll come back to this later. I'll just add that the only people I ever hang out with at all now besides my family and going to work are my mom friends from APA. You, Demigraf and Krystal5 are the main people I have seen besides my little community of neighbors who are mostly sweet and friendly and the parents I'm starting to meet at my kids' school, who are seeming to be pretty nice.
    You are the most amazing person! A motorcycle club! I really believe you know everything about everything. I love it.

    Well, I'm definitely too anxious for that, although I spent plenty of time as a young person on the back of boyfriends' bikes. But I appreciate your insight, as always. I think the key of what I'm looking for is what you said in your second post about regular attendance. That's the idea of what I'm looking for -- something regular and committed, with enough people to actually form a community group. I have made friends, though it took some time -- you, and a few neighbors, and some friends and work buddies of dh's -- but they're scattered around and it can be tough to find time to get together regularly (although dh and I are in talks about trying to form a monthly potluck night at our house, maybe with board games or music or some other interest to hold it together). What I'm missing is, I guess, to be part of a group. It's funny because I've never been much of a group person -- in fact, in the past I'd run the other way from things like clubs, sororities, etc. But that was when I lived in my hometown with many old friends, had family nearby, and was part of a music scene where I got plenty of socializing. Moving here has made me realize how much I took all of that for granted. I miss being able to walk into a room and be greeted by name. You know?

    I've tried meetup without much luck, but I've also been hindered by being home with a toddler and having a partner who works really long hours. Keeping up with music, for example, has been nearly impossible. But I do still hope to get back into that, and continue to pursue other hobbies and interests. I guess at this point I'm looking for a shortcut. I think the UU church sounds interesting -- thank you to everyone who's given me their experience with it!
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by CamaLamaMama View Post
    This interested me, so I had to pop in! I work at my church so I don't know what I would do without that kind of community. My daughter also went to the preschool at my church's preschool. I guess I have most of my community stuff at church.

    Right after DD was born I wasn't as involved in church, I was going to classes at the community college and that helped me find friends. You could join a class that meets your interest somewhere, park district or something if community college isn't something you're interested in. I also have met a few people at my gym. When Cameron was not in full day school and we went out and did things like the park or monkey joes I met a few mothers. I never thought about this before, being someone who is religious.

    Hope nobody minded me barging in. I do lurk in here a little because some of the things you guys mention as being part of a secular lifestyle interests me.
    I don't mind at all. Thanks for being so thoughtful.
    When I was in my 20s, I spent some time as part of a church community. I taught sunday school, sang in the choir, baked communion bread. My older dd, a toddler at the time, attended too. As a single mother it was pretty invaluable to have that built-in support and also to feel needed and useful. As a fundamentally nonreligious person, however, it was tough. I was trying so hard to fit in (and to please my parents, at the time), but I wasn't being true to myself. But I do see the benefits in being involved in something, working towards a common goal with others, and I'm wondering how nonreligious people find that. I'm really enjoying reading the responses.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  11. #11

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    I am searching for a community too. Especially because we homeschool I'd like to find other opportunities for my kids to play with friends. Not because I think they *need* social interaction to develop properly but because it's just plain fun to have friends. All of the groups I've reached out to are church affiliated and I'm afraid we just wouldn't fit in well there especially since my kids are pretty vocal about no believing in God if the subject comes up.
    We are about to start a weekly play homeschool playgroup that is specifically all inclusive with no religious affiliation so I am excited about that. It starts tomorrow!

  12. #12

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    I volunteer a lot, mostly with my local mom's club, and I've met some nice people. However, even when I join in with a group, there are always one or 2 people I zone in on and sort of pick to be my priorities based on similarities and synergy, and I never feel like I'm part of the core of the group. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've found the kind of group synergy that's here in this room (and that's why I love my Secular mamas).

    I agree with 3andMe that here in the Bay, we're almost spoiled for choice and it's not a matter of finding a tribe to belong to, but sifting through all the options. Then it's a matter of just building familiarity with the people around you. I've lived in some areas that were just not my people, and I connected with no one. Like, when I lived across the bay in the tonier, "well-bred" (LOL) area, I did not make one real friend in that town. I have so much more in common with the more socio-economically diverse, outdoorsy demographic of my current town. Guess the key is to do something you genuinely enjoy and find people who genuinely enjoy doing it too, and keep doing it with them. I think that is a powerful way to bring people together.

  13. #13

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    Also, G, don't feel bad that you haven't found a groove yet with a particular community. It's extremely difficult with our busy schedules and family-based priorities! It's hard enough to keep up with our dearest friends that are loosely scattered around the world, let alone build something meaningful with a brand new cohort.
    Last edited by demigraf; 01-08-2013 at 01:20 PM.

  14. #14
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    Did you see my first reply to this was at 6:02 AM, already at work after an hour's commute and I'm still posting after 10 PM? I think having young children, unless you go to a regular moms' group or a very child-friendly place with regular hours, or unless you have childcare, can really cut into having that community. I have not found anything like that. I have seen a couple of groups while I have been out that I might like to talk to--Friday afternoons at one of our regional parks there is a group of moms and kids that hang out, but I only have Fridays off maybe once every 6 weeks, and often I am swamped with errands or chores. My work schedule is not regular enough (I don't work the same days every week) to be able to meet up with people or a group routinely.

    And pepperlru, I got into motorcycle riding as part of my birthday vow to always be learning something new every year. One year I took snowboarding lessons, one year I got scuba certified, one year I took a motorcycle safety class at my sister's urging and then I was the one who really enjoyed it and ended up buying a bike and riding all over the place. Since I had the twins, I have kind of lapsed in my 'keeping life interesting' thing.

    I think Mylah's post was spot-on. I have let myself not feel guilty about not doing things with the friends I had BK (before kids) or saying no to invitations or commitments that would put more pressure on me, and that has resulted in a life almost entirely void of IRL friends, because I don't have free time. Honestly, I was very impressed with the number of people you had at your house at Noe's birthday. I could probably do that if I had a party, too, but they would be people I hadn't seen in ages. I agree that it's important to build a circle of friends, and I have been thinking more about this lately and hoping I'll be able to do it more as my children get a bit older, but I still feel like I'm in survival mode. I still don't get time to finish peeing before there is another emergency in the house. I don't get to floss by myself. My number one priority this year is to make sure DH and I get more than one date night this entire year.

    I'm really glad you started posting in here. I kept hoping you would.


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    My community is a mix of people; I have a few American expat friends, am gaining quite a few new teacher friends from working at a school and my biggest friends are made up from a few of the other mom's at my older son's school. I call them the yummy mummies. They like to go out and gossip about everything, and I'm not so much like them at all, but they are nice company, I suppose.

  16. #16

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    I also don't have a core group but luckily I don't feel lonely. I do think though that now that both my kids are school aged that I can branch out and do more things by myself.

    I am a loner though and like doing things by myself. I also am very picky about friends. I have never had a core group of friends, never felt I "belonged" at church, and just never been a part of group commraderie. I have had close friends though and I feel that I am not a social misfit because of it. My DH was trying to chide me recently by telling a couple of his friends that I don't have any friends and asked me to name them and they couldn't be "online friends." I only have 2 people IRL that I consider friends. I also have one close associate who I may consider a friend soon, that is it. My 2 friends I have currently, I don't speak with them often either, but I am fine with that right now.

    I used to belong to a Buddhist meditation group now that I am thinking about it. I have considered in the past few months joining another one. I don't want to be a Buddhist but if I had to pick a religion, it would be that one. The place I went was a zen center and there was a community sort of feel there. That was about 8 years ago.

    I also volunteer often. I also feel I have a community with Ky's school. It is a really small school and we are considered "founding parents." Our school community is like a family. I know all the parents and kids in Ky's grade and we do a lot of volunteer activities and events together so that is probably my community group right now. In the past I joined the Hands On network. Here it is called Hands On Atlanta and I participated in a program called "TeamWorks" where I was a member of a volunteer team. We picked places we would go volunteer at weekly for a couple years and I still keep in touch with a few of team. Volunteering is a great way to find a community feel, especially if it is in an area that is dear to your heart or that you are passionate about.

    Erin

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3andMe View Post
    Did you see my first reply to this was at 6:02 AM, already at work after an hour's commute and I'm still posting after 10 PM? I think having young children, unless you go to a regular moms' group or a very child-friendly place with regular hours, or unless you have childcare, can really cut into having that community. I have not found anything like that. I have seen a couple of groups while I have been out that I might like to talk to--Friday afternoons at one of our regional parks there is a group of moms and kids that hang out, but I only have Fridays off maybe once every 6 weeks, and often I am swamped with errands or chores. My work schedule is not regular enough (I don't work the same days every week) to be able to meet up with people or a group routinely.

    And pepperlru, I got into motorcycle riding as part of my birthday vow to always be learning something new every year. One year I took snowboarding lessons, one year I got scuba certified, one year I took a motorcycle safety class at my sister's urging and then I was the one who really enjoyed it and ended up buying a bike and riding all over the place. Since I had the twins, I have kind of lapsed in my 'keeping life interesting' thing.

    I think Mylah's post was spot-on. I have let myself not feel guilty about not doing things with the friends I had BK (before kids) or saying no to invitations or commitments that would put more pressure on me, and that has resulted in a life almost entirely void of IRL friends, because I don't have free time. Honestly, I was very impressed with the number of people you had at your house at Noe's birthday. I could probably do that if I had a party, too, but they would be people I hadn't seen in ages. I agree that it's important to build a circle of friends, and I have been thinking more about this lately and hoping I'll be able to do it more as my children get a bit older, but I still feel like I'm in survival mode. I still don't get time to finish peeing before there is another emergency in the house. I don't get to floss by myself. My number one priority this year is to make sure DH and I get more than one date night this entire year.

    I'm really glad you started posting in here. I kept hoping you would.
    Thanks! I check in here now and then, but I've always felt intimidated by the confessions threads -- so many conversations, how do you keep up? So I've never been nervy enough to jump into those. Maybe I will one of these days.

    I'm excited that you thought we had a good number of people at Noe's party. It was a nice group. It has taken me a lot of work to make friends here, and I'm really grateful for the wonderful people I've connected with, but we don't get together often enough to really feel like a community. That's what I'm trying to explore. And a lot of the people we've connected with, and feel really in tune with, live across the bay -- as Demigraf alluded earlier, sometimes the area we live in might not be the best fit for finding likeminded folks. Most of the friends I've managed to collect since we moved here don't live in our county. Kind of wish sometimes we'd rented instead of bought when we first moved here so we'd have some leeway in exploring other towns, but I'm trying to bloom where I'm planted!

    I know what you mean about time being scarce with little ones -- it really is, and it's really hard. I spend most of my time trying to keep my head above water too, and I have less kids and more free time than you. I don't know how you accomplish everything that you do as it is, and make it look easy!
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ky'sMom View Post
    I also don't have a core group but luckily I don't feel lonely. I do think though that now that both my kids are school aged that I can branch out and do more things by myself.

    I am a loner though and like doing things by myself. I also am very picky about friends. I have never had a core group of friends, never felt I "belonged" at church, and just never been a part of group commraderie. I have had close friends though and I feel that I am not a social misfit because of it. My DH was trying to chide me recently by telling a couple of his friends that I don't have any friends and asked me to name them and they couldn't be "online friends." I only have 2 people IRL that I consider friends. I also have one close associate who I may consider a friend soon, that is it. My 2 friends I have currently, I don't speak with them often either, but I am fine with that right now.

    I used to belong to a Buddhist meditation group now that I am thinking about it. I have considered in the past few months joining another one. I don't want to be a Buddhist but if I had to pick a religion, it would be that one. The place I went was a zen center and there was a community sort of feel there. That was about 8 years ago.

    I also volunteer often. I also feel I have a community with Ky's school. It is a really small school and we are considered "founding parents." Our school community is like a family. I know all the parents and kids in Ky's grade and we do a lot of volunteer activities and events together so that is probably my community group right now. In the past I joined the Hands On network. Here it is called Hands On Atlanta and I participated in a program called "TeamWorks" where I was a member of a volunteer team. We picked places we would go volunteer at weekly for a couple years and I still keep in touch with a few of team. Volunteering is a great way to find a community feel, especially if it is in an area that is dear to your heart or that you are passionate about.

    Erin
    I've always been picky too, Erin... or maybe antisocial is a better word. I've generally been happy with just a few friends, but I'm finding as I get older that my needs are changing. It's an interesting thing.
    About the buddhist meditation -- the leader of the local UU church that I am considering trying out hosts a weekly chant and meditation evening that sounds interesting. I have done some meditation as part of stress reduction techniques, but it would be nice to incorporate it more into daily life.

    I'd love to get back into volunteering, but my availability is pretty limited until Noe goes to school. In the past I've worked with children and older adults, in centers and in libraries, and with Meals on Wheels. They were all really fulfilling in their own way. I think when I'm able, I'd like to volunteer in something involving food resources. Volunteering in Marin, I didn't get to know people the way I did in other places, but I think finding the right organization probably has a lot to do with it.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  19. #19
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    I been trying to figure out "where I belong" for a while but, since we've started our journey with Habitat for Humanity I love working in their office to earn hours and the classes have been my favorite. Everyone that is working to earn a home is called a Partner family. I love that! I know they can be part of my life forever. Once the home is built and we get started on our mortgage payments we will still be part of the "habitat family". I've met the sweetest people there and I hope some of us will be neighbors! It depends on what lots are available some are scattered about and others do have specific neighborhoods.



  20. #20

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    I've found my community through my kids. I've met a bunch of area moms who parent similarly to me and hold the same general outlook on life as me (i.e., they're not church goers, they're liberal, they're involved in our greater community). I've never really been a church goer, so I don't know if there's a big difference, but I can say that my neighbors and friends are my community and they've come together to help our family when we needed it, much the way a church group would. When the twins were born, I had meals, childcare, and tons of other support from these people. I feel very lucky to have found a group of really wonderful people to call my "community."



  21. #21

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    I found mine at a game store here in town. They specialize in tabletop games. Aside from the M=this game, Tu=this game, etc, of regularly scheduled games that people come to play they also have board game days (on opposite Saturdays as the public libraries as a combined effort) where anyone can bring in a board game they like (or none at all) and just jump in to any game they feel like playing. There are usually a good number of kids there with their parents, and it offers great community. I love it.

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