May 2018 President’s Message by Cindy Towles

April was an exceptional month.    The capstone, naturally, was the April 12th groundbreaking ceremony for our long-awaited community center.  Our spirits were soaring on this landmark occasion because the center will be a much-needed focal point for our civic, cultural, and recreational uses and it brings us one step closer to our origins as a close-knit community.

Until its completion in 2019, I am excited to meet at Cherryland Elementary School during the school year.  Our first general meeting there on April 10th featured Rachel Osajima from the county Arts Commission presenting samples of the art for our new community center, producing a flurry of selfies from the youth attending.  Also presenting was the delightful and informative Nelsy from Measure A – Alameda County Early Education and Child Care (please support this important measure:  I felt it was a success despite light attendance due to the conflicting county presentation of hot-topic proposed plan to transfer the REACH center from the HCSA to ACSO.

Last week, I attended a couple of meetings that had to do with the “Eden Voice!” campaign where I learned a new term: “social capital”  (a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central; transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation; and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good).

What is the common theme of all the above?  Community.

In my researching “social capital”, I stumbled on some concepts, such as the difference between a community and communitas.  A community is simply defined as a group of people living in an area; or with common interests.  Communitas has the same Latin root meaning as community; but has been used by anthropologists to mean an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness.

In my mind, the things I learned are tied together.   I think of it this way:   if we as a community have a common experience (such as the journey to make Cherryland a better place to live), it brings everyone onto an equal level (even if you are higher in position, you have been lower, and you know what that is).   If you don’t think of yourself as more important than anyone else, that frees you up to putting the common good first.  This opens the door for that reciprocity, trust, and cooperation; which takes community to the next level of that intense community spirit of Communitas, which is what I wish for you and for me.

And if you want further explanation of these topics, I urge you to get in touch with my favorite sociologist, Basil Sherlock, who I am sure would enjoy talking to you at length about it, because I am already out of my depth!

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