Where is that elusive sense of community?

It’s something many of us secretly ask ourselves, and there’s even a book written about it. Is it possible to create a sense of community where none existed? History says yes, and hopefully we can use that to build better communities in the very near future.

This week I’ll present places I’ve experienced that are known to have a strong sense of community, and how we plan to integrate that into CoolTowns. I’ll start with Hawaii, since it’s regarded by its residents as having an incredible sense of community, and it’s also where I grew up.

In Hawaii, friends are called uncles and aunties, and strangers are viewed as friends. The ethnicities are so diverse and tolerant that it seems 90% of all the jokes told by comedians in Hawaii reflect cultural differences, something that is considered offensive (and sadly so) in the U.S. mainland. Spontaneous get-togethers to play ukulele and dance are the norm, people come early and leave late to help out, and even the Aloha Spirit is state law.

Where did this come from? Part of it is best explained by understanding Hawaii’s plantation history in the first half of the 20th Century when corporate plantation owners lured thousands of workers from around the world (including my grandparents). What’s noteworthy is that they were mixed together, all the better to fight with one another than to rebel against the plantation owners over what became false promises and inhumane working conditions. At first they did clash, but once they realized the futility of it all they began sharing their language (today’s Pidgin English), food and eventually their resources to work together and gain their freedom.

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