Hello, what’s this? Someone else who thinks that sense of community doesn’t necessarily require strong or dense local social ties? A year ago I mentioned the initial thoughts of Queensland sociologist Lynda Cheshire on community resilience in the 2011 floods. Now here she calls for more participants for her study and offers early reflections:
‘Even outside of emergencies, a good relation with neighbours has been shown to increase individuals' sense of community and attachment to place, and to improve health and well-being.
‘This doesn't necessarily mean we have to become close friends with neighbours or organise street barbecues. Low levels of interaction - such as friendly greetings when you see them, keeping an eye on each other's properties while away, and exchanging telephone numbers for emergencies is all that's really needed.’
The point being, I think, that these low level connections require much less effort to establish and maintain than do close ties, and we all have more of them, so our chances of mobilising help in time of need are going to be more efficiently increased through recognition than through close relationship.