What is a community? It’s many things to many people, but by definition, it’s a unified body of individuals. They can be brought together by similar interests, shared goals, common characteristics or identity; or simply through proximity.
If you’re fortunate, when you come into this world you automatically have a community swaddled around you like a soft fuzzy blanket; a cocoon of family, friends, neighbours, townspeople.
Of course, that community — your very first community — is an accident of birth. For better or worse, you’ve no choice in the matter. Your pin is dropped on the map without your knowledge or consent, as you arrive at your first destination without a passport. So our origin story begins simply, with us discovering the people around us and what’s in our own backyard by default.
But then, as the movie of our lives continues, in the next scene the focus changes; the lens pulls out slowly from the close-up to the wide-angle view. In my case, thanks to the irresistibly tinted atlases and globes of my primary education (and reading voraciously about other people in other lands), I started to understand the enormity of what was beyond my understanding… nearly everything! Turned out that there was a vast, wonderful world beyond the doorstep.
So I made a choice; to travel as much as I could and see all of it for myself. Though the logistics for an eight-year-old were hazy, it was a conscious decision to strike out on my own someday.
For those of us who travel, it’s through the act of exploring, on our various adventures and misadventures, that we establish commonality with a whole new group of people; those we would never have met otherwise. We increase our capacity for kindness and caring, adopting an entirely different kind of community — one that we seek out for ourselves. At its best, it’s wildly diverse, thoroughly inclusive and warmly welcoming. A chosen community where everyone can play a part.
Our worldview broadens, our minds open… but that’s only the start. By seeing the world through a global lens, paradoxically we’re in a much better position to put an emphasis on the wellbeing of local communities wherever we roam. ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ takes on a personal meaning. And the more we see, the better informed we are when it comes to how we travel. The bucket list fades into insignificance as quality eclipses quantity.
We make another choice, as we evolve into members of yet another community; one made up of responsible, ethical travellers.
We respect other cultures, appreciate their customs and celebrate what makes them unique and special. Going a step further, we can be mindful of opportunities to give back to those host communities as travellers; we may only visit any given destination for a few days, weeks or months but we can consider how to have a lasting beneficial effect that persists long after we’re gone.
So what came next in my own journey? Fast-forward a few decades, and those colourful childhood atlases are long outdated. I’ve lived in different countries, have seen some unforgettable sights, and have met some incredible people. The globe to me certainly doesn’t feel any smaller, but my understanding of it is a lot richer. I still want to see more — but travel better. And I’m exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity to ‘travel’ through my work as an editor, seeing the sights through the eyes of passionate activists, eloquent local experts and avid storytellers alike.
When I joined Resonate to collaborate with writers on their stories, I already understood that meaningful transformation can only happen when we bridge our differences. But the more time I spend helping authors to find their voices and develop narratives, the more I grow, and I discover something new every day about the places people call home. I’m proud to have been involved in helping to launch the Resonate Travel Community as a way of bringing us all together in one great big like-minded family.
We’re diverse and distinctive, but we’ve got at least one thing in common — we’re born travellers. We may not know where we’re headed, but we know where we’ve been. We are thoughtful people; interested in everything and everybody around us. We can’t help being curious, are keen to find connection and will never tire of trying to learn more. We may be a quirky bunch; but as we embrace our common goals, our community can expand to include just about everyone.