What creates community? Shared stories.
Shared stories require three things, two of which are obvious:
- A story, or any kind of happening, even a small happening, like a game of cards.
- Some sharing, that is, a group of people who experience the same happening.
But a shared story also requires:
- A first-hand, intimate knowledge that the story is being shared.
A group of individuals sitting at home watching the same show different shows on separate televisions does not create community. But the smallest thing shared with a neighbor does.
An example of a shared story is the above photo, which was taken in downtown Wheeling, W.Va., in 1950. A parade had gone up Market Street — you can see it in the background. Today, downtown Wheeling is almost vacant and you must drive ten miles to a shopping mall to do any substantial shopping.
– photo from the author’s personal collection