Over the last few months, we’ve talked about how we can champion our heroes, honor our children and youth, and foster healthy friendships, and now it’s time to put it all together to talk about building community.
So what exactly is community?
Much like family, there are endless ways to define community. A community can be a group of people who live in the same place, have an interest or characteristic in common, share a goal or ideal, or do the same kind of work. Communities can have three people or three thousand people. The central idea, no matter how your community looks, acts, thinks, or feels, is that individuals in the community are connected to one another.
The definition of community transforms and extends when viewed in relationship to family. A community for a family is a space to come together that is welcoming of who their family is and how they identify with themselves, each other, and the world around them. The composition of their family is celebrated, and their community supports them in how they choose to show up to build connections and create a support network.
There are many ways you can build community in Pierce County! Whether you join a hobby club, volunteer at a community garden, or participate in a summer reading program, opportunities to engage with others are plentiful. Here are a few programs to get you started:
Participate in a local Summer Reading Challenge! Pierce County Library’s Read Beyond the Beaten Path challenge begins June 1, and Tacoma Public Library and Puyallup Public Library’s Oceans of Possibilities challenge begins June 4. Follow the link to read, complete fun activities, and to meet and build community with fellow readers, attend Special Events and Performances or Storytimes.
Open Ended Play
Several weeks ago, Greentrike hosted its annual Promise of Play Symposium: Conference to Build a Child and Youth Centered Community. Rotator Creative led a series of activities that inspired and connected participants at their tables. Presented with a random object like a giant ball of yarn, bike tire, or vinyl record, tables considered: What is this thing, and how could it promote playful community building for children and youth? And with a little creativity, plans to bring ideas ranging from heartwarming to outrageous came to life. For example, one group had a clock at their table and came to the conclusion that it was a giant, musical trampoline accessible to all children, youth, and the community.
And now it’s your turn to do the same with an easy, at-home, family-friendly version. For this activity you’ll need markers and a sheet of paper, the larger the better. Here’s how to get started:
- Gather everyday objects from around your home. You can choose anything from a kitchen utensil or piece of furniture to a stuffed animal or flower vase! Let each activity participant choose an item and set a one-minute timer for added fun.
- Reconvene and place your items on the table. Then choose an item, and ask the group, “What is this thing?”
- Of course, the bucket of paint you’re looking at is a bucket of paint…but what else could it be with a little imagination? Here are a few creative question prompts to get you thinking about your object in a new way…What if we had 100 of these things? What if we used it in water? What if it was 100x bigger? What if we had versions of this in 30 different colors?
- Write down your ideas as they come and remember: No idea is a bad idea!
- After brainstorming, begin to think more deeply about how this item could contribute to making your neighborhood more friendly for children and youth. Start small! What could you make happen within the next week, month, or year? Ask yourself Who, What, When, Why, and How to create a master plan for putting your ideas into action.
- Finally, share your master plan with us on social media by using #childcentered or #youthcentered.
In The Community
Every June friends across the globe unite in celebration of Pride Month. This month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which contributed to the civil rights movement for equality for LGBTQ2SA people. Today, Pride celebrations honor the ongoing advocacy work to ensure that people of the LGBTQ+ community are treated equally.
There are several organizations in Pierce County dedicated to LGBTQ+ advocacy and community building.
- The Rainbow Center expands resources and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community through educational workshops and trainings. RC also holds ongoing Community Hours several days a week for anyone to drop in and ask staff members questions.
- Oasis Youth Center is the only support center dedicated to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth ages 11 – 24 in Pierce County. Oasis offers weekly drop-in programming like Art Night, Open Mic, and Rainbow Yoga as well as leadership programs like Youth Council and QTIYOC Retreat.
- PFLAG Tacoma is a chapter of PFLAG, a network of support chapters that provide peer support, education and advocacy for LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies. PFLAG Connects: Communities provides a space where people with shared experiences can connect each month in virtual support settings.
What does it mean to be an ally?
Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community means you support, accept, advocate for, and care for the well-being of LGBTQ+ people. You stand up for LGBTQ+ rights and help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, and respect.
Greentrike is proud to champion Pride Month with a booklist recommended for families. Now is the perfect time to honor the meaning of Pride Month with the youth in your life!
Pride Month is officially recognized in June, but festivals and events are held all summer long to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Most Tacoma Pride Month celebrations take place in July, with Rainbow Center and Alma kicking off festivities on July 1 with an all-ages dance party! You can learn more about Tacoma Pride Festival events here.
Juneteenth commemorates the day slavery ended in the United States; more than 2 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This year marks the first year Juneteenth will be celebrated as an officially observed holiday in the city of Tacoma.
Waterfront Market at Ruston will be hosting a Black Business Market Juneteenth Celebration on June 19 with a DJ, black-owned popup vendors, food and activities. Juneteenth is also a great opportunity to introduce children to topics like slavery and racism though picture books, online resources, and local exhibits. You can also get involved with local organizations championing anti-racism work like Tacoma Urban League and YWCA Pierce County.
Father’s Day is a holiday honoring fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers on society. This Father’s Day, June 19, create something heartfelt for the father figure or paternal caregiver in your life with one of these easy activities!
World Refugee Day
World Refugee Day is an annual international observance on June 20th that is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world, and in light of the conflict and displacement currently taking place in countries like Ukraine, this year’s observance carries even more weight.
Several local programs support refugee populations, including Pierce County’s Refugee Health Program, which screens and helps refugees who move to the area, Tacoma Community House, which provides immigration assistance and education, and the Korean Women’s Association, which provides multicultural, multilingual human services.
One local program for refugees to build community is the Tacoma Refugee Choir. While singing is a key part of the program, its primary objective is to create a space where meaningful relationships can develop, and members can uplift one another. TRC is hosting the first annual Heart of Tacoma Festival on June 4 and a World Refugee Day Celebration on June 20.
Building community knows no age limit! Whether you’re looking to connect with nursing BIPOC mothers, new fathers, or military families with a child on the autism spectrum, there are more opportunities to build community than you might know.