Community Organizing Helped Us Cope with Storm

Listen to the Story

The storm last week helped to put a few things into perspective for me. First thing – I now understand why reporters willingly go into storms; witnessing the power of nature first hand is pretty amazing when you are well equipped for it. Second thing – individually we are insignificant but as a community we are a force to be reckoned with.

Thanks to the ongoing political campaigns we’ve heard a lot about the importance, or lack there of, both of small town values and community organizing . The candidates have busily created definitions for the sake of denigrating the competition. However last week Mother Nature provided us with a defining example.

Spiritual leaders often talk about this force greater than our selves; some of you may call that god. Being a non-theist I tend to think of it as community, fellowship or nature, depending on the situation. Regardless of your perspective there is something special that happens when groups of people come together and recognize the needs of others as being a goal worthy of achieving.

Small town values refers to just that: meeting the basic needs of others, giving unconditionally and doing the right thing – even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. I would hardly call the many communities within Central Ohio small towns; in fact Columbus is the largest city in the state. What I witnessed last week though was small town values at their best. My neighbors and I, pitching in to remove debris, cook food, scavenge ice and watch each others’ children in the process.

With that in mind shouldn’t we replace the words small town with community values ? Isn’t it about time we stop dividing our country in two; no more small towns versus cities, educated versus uneducated, religion versus science, and have’s versus have not’s.

And what about those community organizers? When I set out to clear my yard of the mounting debris piles that kept falling out of the sky an older gentleman came by looking for help with his yard. My neighbor Jim joined me with his tools; making fast work of the effort. Before we knew it 6 of us came together and cleared as many yards, and by mid-afternoon we had done what no individual could’ve done in a day. Similar efforts took place all around Central Ohio. One friend setup a free coffee stand in her front yard for the neighborhood while a large grocer provided free ice.

Because someone chose to stand up and organize these efforts peoples’ basic needs were being met. Without community organizers who are willing to lead – maintaining values that both our small towns and large cities claim – we cease to be a great nation. Only when we work together can we accomplish great things.

Mother Nature changed our lives last week and taught us a valuable lesson. Community organizers are the embodiment of small town values . I hope that’s a lesson we won’t soon forget.

Andrew Miller is the host of the blog Elephants on Bicycles