If you asked someone what they think makes a community thrive, they would probably mention something about the strength of relationships within that community. And they’re absolutely right, because that’s what community is: a social unit of personal connections that foster a sense of affinity and belonging. Thanks to social media and the internet, the traditional understanding of what “community” is – physical closeness to other members in an area – is being challenged. The term now extends to groups of people across the globe who come together virtually with shared interests or common objectives.
These communities flourish only when we take a step back and realize what a community's framework really consists of – individuals. When the physical and mental wellbeing of a community is supported on an individual level, communities thrive. Members of Norfolk County work tirelessly to create this prosperity by providing plenty of opportunities for involvement, facilitating effective
communication, and making fairness and equality a priority.
Providing plenty of interaction opportunities fosters authentic relationships and creates
emotional fulfillment. Norfolk County is well known for keeping its community spirited with its beer and wine tours, its annual county fairs and festivals, and its Lake Erie shoreline where beaches, boat tours, and water sports form a web of interpersonal relationships. This is how communities hold a lot of power – especially right now. With the ongoing lockdown measures, community is one thing helping keep people together and combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even if right now these events are mostly FaceTime parties and Zoom calls – the interaction is critical in keeping us connected.
Effective communication is an integral part of what keeps communities thriving. When the
transfer of ideas and information is clear, concise, and available to everyone, members can be
fully informed when making important decisions. Norfolk County has a multitude of communication
channels that work together to keep its citizens in the loop – broadcasting networks, newsletters, and a plethora of community pages on Facebook and social media, to name a few. Effective communication develops deeper connections, and communities are more unified when it comes to achieving common goals.
The understanding that all members – regardless of income or social status – are deserving of
equal treatment and an adequate standard of living is crucial to a community’s wellbeing. In Norfolk, we have organizations like CAMHS of Haldimand & Norfolk working to provide community-based mental health services and Indwell, a charity housing program in Simcoe that makes affordable housing obtainable for everyone. Equality cultivates confidence, productivity, and a sense of belonging – which inherently leads to its effect on society as a whole: both economic and social prosperity.
In short, thriving communities create a positive feedback loop by dedicating care to their members on an individual level, which in turn allows these communities to continue to flourish. Norfolk County may be legally defined by a geographical area, but its residents might argue that it is more notably represented by the compassion and generosity of the community that it harbours.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” - Coretta Scott King