I love telling the stories of my community, and a friend once remarked to me that she noticed a common thread in much of my work: that many of the stories I tell are about “connectivity and shared experience.” If that’s so, perhaps that’s one reason why I enjoy working on Connecting Point’s “Gone But Not Forgotten” series so much.
We tend to bond over our past—it’s one thing that can help to break down barriers. Casting differences aside is easy when you’re reminiscing with someone about the first band you both saw at a long-gone concert hall or juke joint, or the taste of the amazing pastrami sandwiches at the deli you frequented in your youth which closed many moons ago.
But nothing seems to loom as large in everyone’s past as your first real job. The one where you cut your teeth, honed your craft, made lots of mistakes, and learned things that you still apply to whatever job it is you hold today. I was reminded of that recently when I worked on a story about the former North Adams Transcript newspaper for the Gone But Not Forgotten series.
Everyone I interviewed about their time at the “Transcript” had different backgrounds. They all held different jobs there, be it reporter, photographer, or editor. And while some had stayed in the newspaper biz, most had gone on to very different careers afterwards. Even with all of those differences, one thing remained the same among all of the former employees that I spoke to—a bond between them and their fellow Transcript co-workers, a familial tie that carries forth to this day and connects them with one another. It’s because they experienced many of the same things; the highs, the lows, and a love for what they did. And what they did was work together towards a common goal: to create something each and every day that made their community a better place. Many of us do the same thing, in our own way, and so do our friends and neighbors.
The ties that bind us are everywhere, if you just look around you. When you touch upon something that resonates with people, when it’s something that they can relate to – like a first job, a first concert, or something that’s “gone but not forgotten,” they respond, and connections can be made with someone you’d never think you had anything in common with.
I guess my friend was right – that when it comes right down to it, it’s all about shared experience, as that is where community is born.