Friday, 13 March 2015

Vicar's Sofa: Community, what does it mean to you?

It's all getting rather exciting in these parts as we start to prepare for a big move to my first Vicar-ing job. For the last few years, as regular readers will know, we have been living in the sort of semi-countryside. This has been lovely but a bit odd for this self confessed urbanite. From the start I have lamented the lack of light pollution (I like street lights, so sue me...!) and I deeply miss the ability to collapse into a coffee shop within walking distance from my house. Our next move is back to more urban surroundings and right into the heart of the town where we (the husband and I) will both be working as well as living.

It is pretty in the countryside, I grant you!

As well as worrying about the monumental amount of packing there is to do I have also been thinking excitedly about what life in this new little commuter town is going to be like. In many ways I already know it very well. I grew up about six miles away and I'm going right back into the golden world of my lovely friends and family. But in other ways it is completely new. A new bunch of people, a new town centre, a new lifestyle for us that will be very different from our little village with just a Co-op and a Post Office!

My first 'Googles' about the town (after the church, of course!) probably reveal quite a lot about my major concerns when moving to a new community. Search one – 'Haberdashery'. Et voilĂ ! A lovely little family run business pops up in my search findings. That's all my free time sorted, then.
My next searches of 'Vegetables' and 'Second hand furniture' are possibly a bit random, I grant you, but there is nothing better than wandering down to a good market for your food. The desire for a second hand furniture shop comes from a complete inability to pay hundreds of pounds for something I can get for a fiver. Though, to be fair, this does have its drawbacks. My brother, based on past experience of visiting us, enquires about the stability of every piece of furniture before he sits in it!
Second hand furniture rules!

But all this local shopping and eating is, for me, a big part of what it means to be a community. It's about supporting the people working in your area because you are neighbours but also because you want them to still be there selling you all this brilliant stuff. Hooray for towns with farmers markets and second hand shops (which my new town has both of, score!) And a double hooray for the unexpected bonus of a French delicatessen! Be still my beating heart, we will have proper Brie!

Shopping locally also means getting to know the people who live beside you, a very pleasant side benefit to the acquisition of excellent French cheese and unloved armchairs. This has also been something the church has been very good at in my life allowing me to make friends with people from across the generations. It also allows my to indulge my fantasy of creating a life reminiscent of the Gilmore Girls in Starshollow. Everyone should have a Luke and a Taylor Dosie!
Forgetting that 'No man is an island' seems to be pretty common in our towns and cities but, based almost entirely on hunch, I feel like the tide is turning on that. We do want to belong where we live, even if we are only there for a short time. Since leaving university I haven't lived anywhere longer than three years and I'm unlikely to ever lay down permanent roots till I retire. But I still want to wave to people as I walk down the high street and make a new friend that lives just up the road.  

So what do you think? Are we having a community revolution? Does it matter to you? And what are your top tips for growing community where you are?


  1. I'm glad you know already where you will be serving your curacy, Nicola. It sounds like a place which will really suit you and if you're happy and fulfilled there, your ministry will be so much more effective. All the best for the next few months.

  2. Thanks so much. I think it will be a good place for us and can't wait to get started now! Hope all is well with you, thanks for stopping by!