Romer: The importance of community
Every day we hear the word community used by government officials, businesses, news anchors, and chambers of commerce. But what does it really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, community can have many meanings, but the one that most closely defines the way we see it is, “a unified body of individuals” further explained as “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.”
Your neighborhood is a community, your gym or your professional organization is also a community. It makes sense that the communities we gravitate toward, both personally and professionally, are made up of like-minded people who make us feel uplifted, encouraged, inspired, and supported.
Being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging. But what, exactly, does community mean and how does it manifest in our lives? Just as denoted by the root and the suffix of the word (common-unity), a certain segment of the population is united by a familiar thread. In Eagle County, that familiar thread includes a passion for our outdoor recreational opportunities and the mountain lifestyle. It also includes the ability to come together in times of turmoil and hardship.
Our community has been united around loss over the course of the past weeks. There is a huge hole in our collective hearts as our Eagle River Valley community suffered greatly last week with the loss of numerous community leaders. Community is where we find comfort in difficult times. It isn’t a luxury, a nice thing; community is essential to our well-being.
Community is about growing with, and providing support to, others. The very idea of community comes into being because people like to cooperate with each other. Adam Palmer, Andy Jessen, and Seth Bossung lived this and were exemplary examples of leadership, growing with others, and cooperation … as did Jeff Brausch and Johnny Kuo.
“United we stand, divided we fall,“ how true. These gentlemen exemplified community — not just being geographically close or part of the same social web network, but about feeling connected and responsible for what happens in their community. Their involvement to build a better community through their work, volunteerism, and attitude allowed them to be role models to others.
Being a part of a community makes us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. It gives us opportunities to connect with people, to reach for our goals, to make us feel safe and secure. A true community is about being connected and responsible for what happens. Not just watching, but actively participating and making a difference through their actions.
Adam, Andy, Seth, Jeff and Johnny made a difference within their networks and within a larger community. Their positive impacts are their legacy. Leaders, employees, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. The truth is, every one of us is put in this world to contribute and make a difference in our own unique way. It need not be anything exemplary (although in their own way, each of them absolutely was exemplary). It just needs to be something you do with the intention of doing good and helping others.
As we come to terms with the loss individually and together, remember that you can change the world by helping one person at a time. As our community continues to grieve, I encourage you to ask yourself, how can I follow their lead and learn from their legacy by making a difference in my community? I think they would like that.