By Harriet, Editor-at-Large
One of my priorities has been to volunteer at the local opportunity/thrift shop. The idea is that as my needs change I have access to stuff that might be useful at a very cheap price and a bunch of friends who will look out for me – both in the emotional and material realms.
My husband doesn’t understand this aspect of things. He just sees me as time poor, despite being “retired” and wants me to give up the time at the op shop to give me more time to do the things he thinks are important. Now if we go into a time of hyperinflation, or just into a deep deep economic depression its my thought that having access to “stuff” will be useful. When things tighten up fewer donations come through the back door of the shop. However, especially in “ordinary” recession/depression times stuff will still come, albeit a little more slowly. And it is for that time I’m preparing by being the sort of person they want in the store. Also I like shopping that is only cents in the dollar.
Given that we now live in a dormitory suburb where people take off to work each day and we never see anyone, other than as they cruise past in their cars, I have been trying to work out how to develop a little more sense of community. It is hard when one doesn’t know the neighbours and they don’t have time or the desire to want to get to know me.
If things go wrong I want to be part of a strong local community who looks out for each other. Given that neighbours don’t really want that I’ve been in a bit of a quandary.
So I have joined up with the local Autumn Club, a group sponsored by the local city council for the over 50s. The community hall rooms are available to us for no cost, but other than that we organise it all ourselves. We have a group of several hundred Seniors who meet at least once a week and take part in a variety of activities such as morning teas, outings, craft, line dancing and water colour painting (all of which I attend) and bingo, indoor bowls and snooker (which I don’t). These activities take up a lot of time.
I also see that books which aren’t sold at the op shop get out into the community. The management of the op shop have agreed that books which don’t sell can be distributed into the poorer areas, such as the one I live in. We give them to community libraries and to Autumn clubs (discussed above) and also to refugee groups. This last group get mostly cook books of which I have an inordinate number and which aren’t wanted by Autumn clubs.
But all of these things take up lots of time. Making community is very time consuming. Often I would really like just to stay at home. But if I really think that tougher times are coming then I need to have a sense of community and be part of a community that shares and supports each other, even if just by our presence. I’m doing those things by taking part as a volunteer and through being part of the Autumn Club. I just wish it didn’t take as much time.
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