A Sense of Community

May 27, 2012 | 1 comment

     Yesterday we held the annual meeting of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, the only organization to which all property owners within the Oysterville National Historic District (ORF) automatically belong.  It was a disappointing, though not unexpected, turnout.
     Disappointing because of the low numbers – ten individuals representing seven households attended the meeting.  I’d like to think that it’s because things in Oysterville are proceeding smoothly; no big controversies. The membership appears to be satisfied with the organization’s direction under the leadership of our current Board of Trustees.  That is reassuring though it doesn’t necessarily speak to the vitality of the organization.  Satisfaction with the status quo can easily turn to complacency.  I hope that isn’t what’s happening here.
     There were no “new” faces at the meeting even though, as someone pointed out, we have had a twenty percent turnover in membership in the last twelve months.  Twenty percent! I haven’t done the math, myself, but that sounds about right. And, although all of our new residents were invited to attend, it is probably understandable that they did not.  All of them are part-timers and are probably not yet aware of the importance of the organization to the village.
     It takes a while when you live in a community to understand how it all works.  In Oysterville, it’s ORF that maintains the church and the open spaces, and it’s ORF, in large measure, that oversees the general ambience of the Historic District.  It’s clear, even to those who aren’t property owners here, that Oysterville exudes a special quality – the sense of place.  Those of us who live here feel that sense of place right into our marrow.  I have no doubt that our new neighbors do, too.  It probably has a lot to do with why they have bought property here.
     But a sense of community is different from a sense of place.  A sense of community doesn’t just come with the territory.  It needs to be fostered and nurtured.  It takes involvement.  And, in a community as small as ours, it takes almost everyone.  It occurred to me yesterday that we ‘old ducks’ have our work cut out for us if we want our numbers to show an increase at next year’s meeting.
     And besides all that… the picnic following yesterday’s meeting was terrific.  The food was plentiful and delicious, the conversation was animated, and the cake honoring our departing and arriving residents said it all: “Celebrating Milestones in Oysterville.”  Indeed!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I guess that communities are like friendships and flower gardens; they have to be tended. Maybe next year you could raffle a ham at the meeting. You might get more participation. Our union meetings perked up with Starbuck’s gift cards. Sounds ridiculous, I know. Glad the picnic was a success!

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