When we think of community, it’s usually in the context of what the members of a community have in common. It can be more difficult to remember that none of the communities we belong to are monolithic.
How do we make our communities accessible, whether they are communities of interest, identity or geography? What makes a neighbourhood/event/discussion safe and accessible?
Defensiveness is often the response to these questions. But this defensiveness only serves to break down community. Being open to critique and change can only strengthen it.
Curb cuts and bike lanes are hard-won concessions that increase everyone’s ability to get around a neighbourhood. Providing precise accessibility information for events lets people know if it’s possible to attend and also leads to the awareness needed to plan more inclusively in the future. Identifying our areas of privilege can help us to stop erasing or ignoring the experiences and contributions of others. Stepping back when asked to by people whose experience of privilege is different from your own doesn’t diminish community; it widens it.