The Community in Winter


Garda de Sus
Photo by Garda de Sus

When a community is engaged and active it is easier to help keep families from falling into household disaster situations brought on by the seasonal conditions. The role of the community in winter is to share and ensure that people have enough of what they need to make it through the winter. As members of an active community we can share hope in the form of an attentive ear, a watchful eye, a compassionate voice, and an empathetic heart. The idea is that we can share the bounty of the Earth long after the growing season is over and within a strong community, people take care of their own.

Overlooked Disasters

Disasters are not always major events. Not all disasters affect whole communities. Even if there is no county or state level disaster declaration where you live this winter, families near you will be affected by disaster conditions. It may involve loss of power or heating in their homes. It could be the lack of warm clothing and proper winter shoes. It could also be that families that depend upon seasonal trade work to make their living will suffer an unexpected financial set back that drains their savings. These situations are not about a lack of discretionary funds. These disasters are about having to make choices about food, heat, and other basic needs for quality of life; or worst yet, not having choices or the resources that provide options.

In disaster preparedness it is recommended that you have a winter emergency kit in your car in case you are separated from heat and care so that you can survive until you are rescued. Now imagine if this was the situation in a home and there was no rescue. The community aspect of awareness and preparedness includes watching out for our neighbor’s welfare as much as our own. Within the community we can take action to make sure that no friend, family, child, or animal goes hungry and cold when it is within our ability to assist.  

It can be argued that it is not the role of the federal, state, or local government to see to our neighbor’s needs. I say this for several reasons. First is that the government has a poor record of recognizing need until situations become critical. Secondly; friends, neighbors, and congregations are in a much better situation to recognize these needs well before a situation becomes a household disaster. Third, and perhaps most importantly, government subsidies do not strengthen communities.  

Strength in Community

A strong and active community, group, or congregation can stay in touch through the winter and support each other through winter social activities and gatherings. In this way a family can avoid a potential disaster situation altogether. Here are some ideas that were normal and expected 100 years ago, and can be just as effective today.

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