Can we make it so ‘all’ have loving, supportive network?

  • By KYRA WAGNER
  • Thursday, March 3, 2016 9:35am
  • News
Can we make it so ‘all’ have loving, supportive network?

Editor’s Note: MAPP,  Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships, is a local coalition that aims to use and build upon our strengths to improve our individual, family and community health. Health is defined broadly to include cultural, economic, educational, environmental, mental, physical and spiritual health.  

 

I usually don’t like using strong words like “always” and “never” and “everything” or “nothing,” but sometimes I just can’t help it.  Like right now.

Everything that matters for community starts with the individual.  

I think I can safely say that. Communities develop a personality, a culture, a reputation and that is built on the actions of the individuals who live there. Some individuals may affect that more, but all individuals make up the whole.

So what is the culture of our community?

MAPP’s 2015 Community Perceptions survey asked what people see as the strengths of our community.  Natural beauty ranked number one (of course), but coming in second was “People Help Each Other.” That may sound cheesy, but it is an important aspect for a healthy, resilient community.

Last month at a MAPP community meeting, collaborative projects from all around town were highlighted. One after another stood up to explain how organizations and individuals were working together to achieve goals that were bigger than themselves. Goals that were too big to work on alone.

That was heartwarming and fun, and then the conversation evolved into considering ways that organizations can share some of their core activities, everything from office space to accounting services, in these times of statewide budget slashing. That kind of collaboration is a sign of adaptability and resilience that will help us all make it through hard times.

(And let me tell you, we are famous state-wide down here on this end of the Kenai Peninsula for our ability to work together.) 

So if it is true that people help each other at the community level, is it true at the individual level?

Indeed it is. There was another question on that Community Perceptions survey that was much more personal. It asked individuals to rank if they “have supportive and loving relationships” in their lives. The question allowed the respondent to select “Always,” “Frequently,” “Sometimes” or “Never.”

It turns out that 89 percent said “Always” or “Frequently.”  The culture of caring definitely runs strong in our community, even at the individual level.

Not to be a downer, however, I can’t help noting that 10 percent said only “Sometimes” and 1 percent said “Never.”

This makes me think about this culture of caring.  What makes up a culture? My favorite definition of culture is:  a way of life of a group of people — the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that are accepted, generally without thinking about them, and are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

It’s true that we generally don’t think about being a culture of caring, we just do it. It tends to benefit us as much as others.  But if it is truly part of our beliefs and values, it wouldn’t hurt to think about ways that we can pass it along.  

How do we pass it on? How do we find those “Sometimes” and “Never” folks and treat them in such a way that the next time they fill out this survey they will mark “Frequently” or “Always”?  

This isn’t just about passing the culture of caring on to the next generation of youth, but also the next generation of new people who come to town.  “Sometimes” and “Never” folks could live right next door.

As I said, I don’t like to use strong words like “Always” and “Never.” But I find that it depends on where it is used.  For example, I am totally excited that almost two-thirds of survey respondents said they “Always” have supportive and loving relationships.  Most of us do. 

I would, however, especially like to erase “Never” from the vocabulary when we talk about love and support.

Culture may be defined as behaviors and beliefs that we generally do without thinking, but we have a chance to define the culture of our community.  

So go ahead and think about it. Create the culture you want to live in. Whether it is love and support at the individual level or collaboration at the community level, it makes us all part of a healthier community.

Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and a member of the MAPP steering committee.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read