FROM THE TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S DESK
Manchester shines as it celebrates the July 4th holiday. While I have served as Town Administrator for a relative short 6 years, I have been joining in the festivities here for over 30 years as my wife and I almost always visited Manchester friends for the parade. The Red, White and Blue Pancake Breakfast, also a 30 year tradition sponsored by the Rotary Club, kicks off the celebrations. A community concert, the annual parade, all the backyard picnics and the fireworks every other year round out an outpouring of community spirit. It is inspiring to witness.
This community spirit is well worth celebrating and working to preserve. Strong, vibrant towns depend on engaged, caring citizens participating in a wide range of activities. As I have mentioned, we depend on literally hundreds of citizens to volunteer on an array of town committees and boards. But beyond any official role one might play, people’s connections to the Town are so important. A sense of pride and belonging make it possible for a community to come together to make the decisions necessary to continue to chart a solid course for the future.
A central ingredient of feeling connected, of fostering a sense of community, is relationship building. If all we do is go to and from our workplace or school, check emails and maybe a social media post or two, then we risk becoming a rather hollowed out town of isolated individuals. Community events and chance opportunities to meet our neighbors help promote relationships which in turn lay the foundation for important community building.
I like to remind staff that we are in the community building business. While what we provide through municipal services is not sufficient on its own for a truly successful community, the services are a necessary base for such success. And our work is greatly enhanced when there are strong relationships and trust with residents to help guide us.
New York Times columnist David Brooks recently published a book entitled The Second Mountain. In it he describes the problems of focusing too much on the typical “first mountain” of individualism that most of us climb and the value of “relationship-ism” with a call to climb this “second mountain”. As he notes the many current societal and political challenges facing the country he ties these issues back to the fundamental need for all of us to feel connected to our communities and rooted in advancing care and compassion for one another -- work toward which all of us can contribute.
Brooks has teamed up with the Aspen Institute on a new project called Weave: The Social Fabric Institute. It celebrates the many examples of people from all walks of life who are working to ensure the social fabric in their communities is strong and seeks to learn from those who are weaving together communities, establishing connections, building relationships and offering care and trust.
Here in our corner of the world we have our own examples of successful community weavers. We would do well to continue to build on the work of these individuals. We see this in the continuation of the cherished celebrations and festivities of this week. And we can expand upon this good work through-out the year as we endeavor in the on-going work of community building. Happy Fourth of July.