Redefining the Ideas of Neighborhoods - August 12, 2020

Carl shares how COVID-19 has changed how we view who lives in our "neighborhood".

Posted
November 8, 2020
graphic image of world map and people connecting through technology

Redefining the Ideas of Neighborhoods - August 12, 2020

Carl shares how COVID-19 has changed how we view who lives in our "neighborhood".

Posted
November 8, 2020
JFS Friends –
Living in the time of COVID has forced many of us to re-examine many ideas, habits and concepts. For me,one of the things that has changed is the concept of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods used to be defined by geography and by living in close physical proximity to one another. In these neighborhoods our neighbors were the people in the particular area near where we lived. Most of the time, in this type of neighborhood, the people who became our neighbors tended to be largely beyond our control and determined by chance.
Now my “neighborhood” and who I consider my “neighbors” seems to be changing and is less defined by geography. Technology and social media allow us to curate who our neighbors are in a new way. My personal accountant lives in Chicago, my Hebrew tutor is an Israeli, living in Holland, dating a Vietnamese woman, my family is spread out around the country in California, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and other places,I play Scrabble on the internet with people all over the country – most of whom I have not met IRL (In Real Life), Zoom allows me to participate in life-cycle events around the world from my living room and through Zoom I routinely collaborate with professional colleagues all over the world on projects.

In this type of world, who do I think of as my neighbors? Author Orson Scott card says:
“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.” 

If this is true, as we seek out connections – whether they be in person or virtual – we would do well to be careful about the communities we choose to join. The people and communities we choose to join will ultimately influence what we value and how we behave – they will become the group that we seek approval or validation from.  As a result, the philosopher Gustavo Gutiérrez suggests that true neighbors should not be simply those people that we happen upon by chance due to proximity but rather should include those that we actively seek out and cultivate a relationship with.
“[A neighbor is] not he whom I find in my path, but rather he in whose path I place myself, he whom I approach and actively seek.” 

Who are your neighbors? Who are the people, communities and groups that you choose to spend time with andinvest in? Are they people you aspire to be more like? Do they share your values? Do they support you in pursuing your goals? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then it may be time to re-examine the reason we invited them in to our life and to try to understand what has changed.
During times of challenge as well as times of celebration I feel fortunate to be part of the JFS community where I have found a group of “neighbors” that share my values, support one another in pursuing goals and provide me every day with examples that inspire me to do more and be better.
I hope that you feel the same way about our “neighborhood”.
Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature
Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)
Chief Operating Officer
Carl Josehart

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