Sense of Belonging
I started writing this article last month on my 18th birthday, the day I became a “real” adult. I reflected back over the years and was reminded of all the experiences and people that have shaped me into the person I am today. Fernie has shown me a community of people that share many of the same values, motives, and attitudes. I have been enlightened by the variety of activities that manifest and how they unite people in all walks of life.
A sense of belonging in your community is incredibly important. Community is a complex web of interchanging mutuality that is supportive and inclusive. Fernie has and will forever hold these positive attributes; it is what creates meaningful relationships and lasting friendships.
I feel honoured that I am surrounded by a community of people that measure richness by the time spent on top of mountains, on rivers, and surrounded by people that love all these things just as much. Not only are these experiences memorable and personal, we become better connected through an authentic experience as opposed to a synthetic, technological experience. Fernie nurtures face-to-face time because it’s easy to meet people on the trails right outside our house for a bike ride, at the ski hill for a few runs, or at one of the many local coffee shops.
Personal experiences have led me to a community where I have felt like I am a part of a greater family. This family is the ski and bike community that is forever encouraging and inspiring each other. A community where I am constantly reminded of this connection wherever I have travelled and met new people. We instantly have a tie; I know that when I go to their home mountain they will make it feel as if it is mine too.
It’s an incredible feeling to know that only after meeting a person once (and with the probability of not seeing them again for months or even years) that we will eventually cross paths and pick up right were we left off.
Community contributes to the growth of a person. When I was younger I went to various schools and sometimes found it difficult to make connections. It was not until community soccer and other sports that I was able to create stronger connections between others and myself. For myself, sports have always been a form of communication, even when there are few other commonalities. A prime example is when I travelled to Peru and stayed at CIMA, a boy’s home specific for young boys who have grown up in poverty or have been neglected by their families. Because of language barriers and entirely different pasts, our communication consisted primarily through soccer and basketball. Years later, reflecting on this experience I am still in contact with many of these boys. Without these powerful interactions these relationships may not have lasted.
Community has a beautiful way of giving back. It has proven time and time again that coming together through a common interest like music, art, travel, or sport, new friends can be made, respect earned, and a sense of belonging established.