Community – Anne Barwell

I live in Wellington, New Zealand. Just over two weeks ago we experienced a 7.8 earthquake centred in Kaikoura, which is on the east coast of the south island, 180km north of Christchurch. Although the aftershocks have lessened, I swear I can still feel the earth swaying on occasion.

One day later the region was hit with a bad storm, and houses were evacuated and roads closed due to flooding.

As I write this post we still have malls closed, and there is a growing list of buildings that need to be demolished in the city because they aren’t safe if another earthquake hits.

One thing that came across very clearly through these crises was the sense of community amongst not only those hit by these natural disasters, but people further afield. Everyone rallied together, neighbours checking up on each other, and helping out where they could. On particular poignant story was of a couple who had been in Christchurch when the big quake had struck there in 2011 and resettled in Kaikoura for a fresh start. The news story showed them using their experience of one earthquake to help out in another, rather than dwelling on the fact they’d lost everything yet again.

A sense of community is also one of the things I love about being online. Writing isn’t the solitary occupation it used to be. Not only are there writing communities online, but people who understand and listen to when we need advice or help us find the reassurance to pick ourselves up and keep going after a setback. Although I love writing and I couldn’t imagine my life without it, it’s not all smooth sailing. There’s a lot of hard work and disappointment. Not all stories find their audience or are even given the opportunity to do so, nor does it pay that well for the amount of work put into it.

Being able to talk through stuff with someone, or just make a post on a mailing list to ask for suggestions when things don’t pan out the way we’d hoped makes a big difference. Getting back on that figurative horse isn’t easy—whatever the situation. Sometimes I’ve doubted I have the resilience to do it yet again, and probably would have given up if not for the support of others.

Thank you to everyone who makes a difference, whether it’s knocking on a neighbour’s door after an earthquake, or listening to someone let off steam when they need to, and everything in between. We might not see much of each other when things are going well, but I wouldn’t be without any of you.

3 thoughts on “Community – Anne Barwell”

  1. It’s times like this when you really notice the community come together – they’re there all the time but you don’t always notice it so much. As you said, it gives me hope for our future 🙂

  2. What a terrifying thing to experience–and yet I know what you mean. Whether it is a natural or man-made disaster, when I see online communities and friends rally round to send support and aid, it gives me hope for the human race after all. 🙂

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