Thursday, May 29, 2014

the power of starting small

tropical color, seen at Talcott Greenhouse MHC

When I was on campus (I posted about reunion last week) one of the complaints of some of the alumnae touring the new dorm were that; the commons spaces were fewer, coupled with kitchenettes that looked uninviting, and no longer central to the floor but off on the sides. In some of the older dorms the common areas had been converted to dorm rooms, the old dining rooms had been converted to rooms... gathering places had been replaced by rooms to accommodate more students.

The alumnae acknowledged that students today arrive at campus plugged into technology but they felt that the community space fostered community (imagine that.) As one said, many of the class of 1994 arrived with TV and even VHS.

While this discussion was happening I began to notice that within the class members at reunion there were groupings of 3 to 5 women who had planned to be there together and gravitated towards each other at functions. Some had matching necklaces in the parade, some had matching bags, little tokens of identity of a group within the group. At a glance one might wonder if they had all played the same sport or been within the same major. Surprisingly no. It seemed that they had all stumbled across each other their first or second year of school and roomed together or on the same floor and finished their years as a group. Shared space.

I wonder how this will play out for the newer crops of students. Students who, as my class president pointed out, probably haven't shared a room growing up, don't want to share a room at school and have all their own mobile technology and who the school seems to think will not want to gather to watch a t.v. show or a movie, or the news together. (yes, I said news. President Bush - the first one - sent us off to Desert Storm my freshman year of college. We watched the news together, some to protest, others to pray for family members involved. It was a group thing, even if we saw things very differently.)

These thought on small community groups, to strengthen bonds and support larger community are spilling over into a project I'm pulling together for elementary school.


troutbirder said...

Very thoughtful. And true. My eldest son attended a small Benedictine liberal arts college (St. Johns at Collegeville, Minnesota) which was all about service and community). It was a wonderful experience for him...:)

Michelle said...

A very poignant observation about how society is currently working. Sad to say that we seem to rely on each other, work together, or even discuss issues much anymore.

Sara Chapman in Seattle USA said...

Quite an interesting post. It certainly will be interesting to see how today's young people turn out, you might say. I know that our parents threw up their hands at our (boomer) ragged jeans, long hair, etc., etc., but somehow we turned middle aged and now older just like everyone else. We shall see.

JJ said...

I dropped by to say hello! I have been absent from blogging for a while, and I did miss your posts. It’s good to be back.