Can We Talk?
In February 2009 I began Dryden Solutions as a monthly conversation, at the Dryden Community Center Café, as a way to encourage people to come together as members of a community and talk with each other.
The group of people who wanted to start the Community Café had pointed out that there was not as much community connection in Dryden as there had been a generation or two ago, and they missed it. I wondered whether people had opportunities to talk to people they didn’t know personally. I imagined that people pretty much stayed in their circle of friends and family, or if they go to church, with members of their congregation. Maybe with the exception of School Board meetings or political debates.
There is a big national lament about the loss of “the commons” – places for people to cross paths with others and informally talk about what’s going on, talk about life, thoughts, opinions, the issues of the day.
What happened? We don’t walk places anymore – we’re always in our cars? Busy, busy lives? No Town Square? Too many people? The internet?
Who do we talk with? Only people who agree with us? Do we talk with our neighbors? What do we do with each other that would allow us to chat?
Well, parents go to soccer games, or baseball games, or swim meets. And what do we talk about there? Maybe the soccer game, the weather, the dog we brought … television? I recognize you there, because we go to all the games. Maybe I remember your first name, or maybe not. And after about three or four sentences … we talk about the game again. Maybe we talk about the coach.
I am not suggesting we confide in each other, or pour out all our worries onto each other. I am talking about being citizens, and members of a community. A place we care about. Talking about what’s going on and what we think should go on, and how we want it to be here. About why the car dealership closed, and what it means for the town. About there not being enough people volunteering as firefighters. About the proposal for a housing development across from the high school, and whether there is a need for more housing in the Village. About the Farmer’s Market and how to help it succeed. About opportunities for jobs nearby so the young people don’t have to move far away. Or the proposed zoning changes. Or who might need a little help with the kids. When do we get to do that with each other – in an informal way, non-confrontational, not a “sponsored” dialogue, but just folks talking things over?