United by passion
Is community an overused word? A recent search on the Web for the phrase “building community” revealed more than 400 million pages. That’s a lot of talk about community.
Businesses and other organizations have certainly taken notice of our desire to form meaningful connections. Stores once just sold us stuff; now they boast of their community involvement and market an experience. We’re told that by wearing something or buying something or doing something we are part of an exclusive club, even though that club may be millions upon millions strong.
Does all this weaken the idea of community? I remember writing several years ago about what I saw as an erosion of the term natural, as more and more conventional manufacturers co-opted the term. That hasn’t stopped, by the way.
And, beseiged as we all are by the myriad claims of community that contront us daily, how do we know what is genuine? How can we tell if we have truly found community?
I thought about that this summer as we began planning this issue, our annual September focus on the arts in Milwaukee. At the same time, close friends of mine became embroiled in a controversy over unpopular management decisions at Milwaukee’s own Skylight Opera Theatre. As this particular dispute developed, I accompanied friends to one of the weekly protest meetings held near the Skylight’s home in the Third Ward. What I found was astounding. At the protest were performers whom had gone so far as to withdraw from scheduled shows, surrendering income. Season ticket holders were there, too, vowing to return their tickets and ask for their money back. Donors, too, voiced their disapproval of the theater’s decisions.
What I learned is that what makes community genuine is passion.
I think this issue helps illustrate that. We’ve stories about craftspeople whose passion for their art has re-ignited the do-it-yourself movement, and about arts groups which have stepped in to bring our children face to face with the artistic process and we’ve profiled some of the local theater groups working tirelessly to bring good theater to life.
They are all a part of our community, as are our regular columnists, who share their passions – for good food, good health, life and sustainable living.
So, let the corporations try to take community from us. We can spot passion.
And we know our community.