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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Help create a sense of community

It's one way you can make a difference

Robert Putnam, the keen observer of our culture, notes: "Most Americans today feel vaguely and uncomfortably disconnected" (Bowling Alone, Simon & Schuster, 2001).

I spent 22 years in the Washington, D.C., area, most of it in the city. About one of five weekends I stayed in Washington. When I walked to church on Sunday, I made a point to say "hello" to everyone I encountered. Frequently people would give me a puzzled look, but soon I saw them a second or third time and they would respond with a greeting. I wanted our neighborhood to have a greater sense of community. Occasionally I would meet the same people in a grocery store and would get a warm greeting. Did I create a greater sense of community? I don't know. But there's a good chance that in a small way I did. In a small community this greeting exchange happens with ease, but if you live in a large metropolitan area, it's different. There you may be able to help create a sense of community.


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July issue

JULY issue:

Economic inequality

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