What is community?
I have been considering this question for a little while now: What is community? After all, I am the Executive Director of Faith and Community. I probably ought to know. Please rest assured: it’s not that I have no clue. I have just been allowing my thoughts to roam a little more broadly, in an effort to re-imagine what the St Paul’s community might become. Clearly, the St Paul’s community includes current students and their parents; also current staff members and, possibly, their families. I’d like to think that our past students, past parents and past staff members also consider themselves to still be part of our community.
I came across the following definition of community, and there are several aspects of it that appeal to me –
- A group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together.
- A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
Note that community is much more than a group of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time. Real community happens when those people create a culture based on shared commitment – to each other, as well as to the task at hand.
My observations over the past 12 months at St Paul’s School are that this kind of community may be observed in many different contexts. I’ve seen it in staffrooms and classrooms. I’ve also seen it on sporting fields and in SPSSGA meetings. It is especially evident when the School comes together to celebrate special occasions such as ANZAC Day, Celebration of Achievement or Valedictory.
I want you to know that I am committed to building community, and I will be looking for new opportunities to develop and express the “feeling of fellowship” that can be such a delightful fringe-benefit of coming together to focus on the holistic education of your children.
A small example (but remember, “from little things, big things grow”) of how this could happen is the recent establishment of the St Paul’s Green Thumbs Garden Club. We have begun to meet on Tuesday afternoons, to grow vegetables and flowers and to propagate plants. Students, staff and parents are welcome to join us, and we would love to see this little community develop to become something bigger – even into a community garden, perhaps? If you are interested, please contact me – [email protected]
Mr Nigel Grant
Executive Director of Faith & Community