When we bought our house in a little town way out in what we thought was the middle of the nowhere Maine, I would never have guessed that there would be such a thriving community. Heck, if you google the name of our town, our house pops up as the center of “town.” It seemed unlikely to us that there would be much interaction among our neighbors.
Much to our surprise, our little town is teeming with friendly neighbors ready to give us suggestions for roofers, electricians, or other maintenance folks for our many house projects or just suggest the best pizza around town. (In case you’re wondering, the best pizza is at Ralph’s Got Gas general store and gas station.)
People here seem to want to actually get to know each other and genuinely want to see each other succeed in personal endeavors. It’s a mentality that if one community member succeeds, then the whole community benefits.
This is, surprisingly, a drastic change from our Tennessee neighborhood. Though we lived in a suburb there, neighbors didn’t really want to get to know each other (ourselves included).
A smile and a wave with the occasional brief driveway discussion about the weather were the extent of my neighborly interactions. There wasn’t really a sense of community and there definitely wasn’t that feeling of shared success if one of my neighbors was successful in their personal goals. In fact, it felt quite the opposite. More like a competition. If someone was successful, you felt the need to catch up to their success and surpass them. Your neighbor ran a 5k? You’d better run a 10k. Your neighbor just bought a brand new car? You’d better get an even newer model.
I don’t get that feeling of competition here in our small Maine community. Rather than trying to outdo each other, it feels more like neighbors here are actually trying to help each other. This gives us a whole different feeling when talking with neighbors now. Rather than feeling annoyed that we have to stop and talk, we’re excited to learn about how our neighbors have been doing. I want to talk to them and hear about their gardens or work or businesses. It’s a breath of fresh air and gives us a completely new sense of what “community” really means.