Monday, November 14, 2011

German Communities

Compared with my living experiences in the United States, I am truly overwhelmed with the sense of community that exists in German small towns. We currently live in a village with a population of 1,300. It is separated by woods and farmland from neighboring villages of similar populations on all sides. Despite the fact that neighboring villages can easily be reached by a half-hour or forty-five minute walk, they remain their own unique communities.

Residents will tell you that they didn't grow up here even if they were born in the next village. Each village has its own dialect which contains words that are not known in villages that can be reached by a 30-minute car ride. In addition, the small villages each have their own celebrations. They all hold their own Kerve celebrations, St. Martin's Day Festivals, Christmas Markets, fasching parties (see festivals and special events on the right hand side of the blog) and other events throughout the year. Communities have their own clubs in which residents from other communities are welcome to join, although they are usually made-up of people from the community in which the club resides. Each village also has its own church(s) and grocery store.

In our community of 1,300 there is a sports club which offers:  aerobics, soccer, gym classes in which the participants range in age from mommy-and-me classes to gymnastics for old men (60+), a music club, a women's club, a quilting club, and probably other clubs that I'm not aware of. Most of the clubs meet at one of three buildings in town and also hold their celebrations and special events for the greater community at the same locations.

Although I'm sure a sense of community exists in some places in the United States, I'm blown away at the differences with how a sense of community exists in every small town in Germany. It truly creates a sense of purpose and belonging among the residents that lasts a lifetime and gets passed on for many generations.

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