It wasn’t until I moved to North Dakota that I learned what the concept of community meant. Of course I knew the word from grade school on, but knowing a word and understanding its meaning in a conceptual way are two very different things.
I lived the bulk of my life in California and although I experienced and learned many things, a full appreciation of the concept of community was not one of them. I do believe though that what ultimately drew me to the state was a sense (that was quite amorphous in the beginning) that there was something quite different to be found in North Dakota. It is something that one might never realize they were missing until they come upon it – something that once understood becomes so salient that it cannot be divorced from one’s view of the state.
In North Dakota I have come to understand that community is more than a gathering of like-minded folks…more than a nice phrase used to encompass a geographic or organizational collective. Community is a place in the heart, a place where the collective commits to the wellbeing of those around them…a place where one’s struggles are not singular, but instead distributed across a caring network.
I have seen and experienced that community in North Dakota many times. It has always been interesting to me that North Dakotan natives tend to not realize the potency of this concept of community in North Dakota (as opposed to other places). They just see it as what is – a norm. They only know community to be this way. Outsiders, like me, know that this isn’t a way of life everywhere.
Yesterday Mike and I went to a spaghetti dinner benefit for Andrew Lynch. Andy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in December and has since been under an aggressive treatment regimen.
I don’t know Andy personally. His dad, Rob, is a colleague and friend and I wanted to show my support – so to the benefit we went.
The benefit was held at the Fargo Teamsters facility (God bless the Teamsters). I attended a benefit there before – back in October 2010 – for the victims of the Galleria Fire. Andy’s benefit was packed just like the benefit in 2010 was and every other benefit I have ever attended in North Dakota. North Dakotans support each other – and as such, when a family is in need they show up. That is community in practice my friends…and no, you can’t find this everywhere.
Day one thousand and twenty-two of the new forty – obla di obla da