Monday, October 22, 2007

The importance of community

It's an anachronistic image. Women huddled over their sewing, talking amongst themselves, their chairs arranged in a large circle. Women knitting baby blankets around a table; the finished projects will be sent to the preemie ward of a hospital. Women gathering to discuss the latest book selection and the newest events in their lives.

It seems the ties of community have been eroding for quite some time. Families don't know their next door neighbors. Women no longer meet in groups to get the worst of their housework out of the way in a friendly setting. Where are the welcoming committees in neighborhoods with the tins of cookies and smiles?

I've heard the complaints. I've even made some of them. But, in the last few years, a renaissance of community has been sneaking into local neighborhoods, coffee shops, and homes. Here are my favorites.

Knit N Bitch/ Stitch N Bitch

Knitting might seem a little old-fashioned, but Debbie Stoller started a feminist revolution of sorts. Stoller's book calls women to gather in groups, knit, and kvetch about their day. It also gives women the chance to hone their skills and get pointers from more-experienced knitters. Stitch n bitch groups have popped up from San Francisco to Ann Arbor. Knitting's not just for grandmothers any more.

My favorite aspect of knitting: happy faces from the finished products, like my coworker Kiki when I made her a squid.

Writing Groups

For the month of November, has forums
by region for people who want to connect in real life. This leads to writing groups up the wazoo, all working on their novels together. A quick Google search can also lead to finding writing groups in cities across the nation.

Poetry Slams

I don't have a cute graphic for poetry slams. But at my local independent coffee shop, Sacred Grounds, I have seen poetry slams occur late on Tuesday nights. SG also has open mic nights, meetings for all sorts of organizations, and movie nights. It's a good idea to frequent independently owned coffee shops and used bookstores; they often have things to do listed on a bulletin board or allow local groups to hand out fliers.

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