It Takes a Village: Connect with Your Community Through Events
By Rebecca Pikula ~
I am a firm believer in the idea that getting involved in your community is good for the mind and the body. Community relationships can be comforting and nourishing, offering a sense of extended family, sometimes even a safety net. When we open our lives to those we surround ourselves with, we expand cultural and social boundaries, increasing understanding and tolerance among ourselves.
We are also more likely to get outside and explore, to be active, and to engage not just with others, but with ourselves. How many times have you thought, “I’d love to do that 5K, but I don’t have anyone to go with?” When your community is your family, going to a charity 5K is like going to a family reunion. You don’t just have someone to go with you, you have your whole community to go with you!
Our society often engages in a type of digital isolation. When we move to a new city, we stay in contact with old friends and make plans to meet up back home. If you can only text the same five people you’ve known since childhood, you’re never driven to get out and meet anyone new. I say it’s time to shake things up a bit. Get out there and interact with your fellow man. Meet someone who offers you a new point of view. Do something you’ve never done before.
There are local events ranging from art shows and concerts, to color and mud runs, to food truck festivals, to outdoor movie showings. You get a chance to support a local artist or restaurant, shop locally, support your local sports team, learn something new, and even donate your time and resources to making your community a better place.
The people and places around you have a profound effect on your personal well being and happiness, even if you don’t always realize it. Believe it or not, the reverse is true as well. Without your support all those great local artists and entrepreneurs wouldn’t be around for you to enjoy. After all, it takes a village.
Here are a few great community events you can check out around North Georgia and Atlanta:
- Adventure Challenges. Recently, my group of friends and I competed in something called Questival. This particular event is put on by an outdoor gear company but there are many similar events. They send you around the city in search of landmarks, hiking trails, historic spots, and your fellow participants. You and your competitors engage in all sorts of activities, from riding the local public transit, hiking local trails, visiting local restaurants and food trucks, to making new friends, and more. These types of festivals are usually held a few times a year and are a great way to meet new people and learn more about your city, even if you’ve lived there your whole life. After my group participated, we met Questival participants at other events who recognized us and we had a fun story to share.
- Food and Beer Festivals. About three times a year my husband drags me out to a beer festival. He loves beer. These festivals are a great way to sample new blends and new breweries. Food is almost always on the scene as local restaurants and food trucks show up to feed the crowd. We recently attended a beer, bourbon, and barbecue festival, featuring tastings of myriad different beers, a selection of bourbons and whiskeys, and several local vendors with barbecue for sale. We’ve both come to enjoy these festivals so much; he’s no long dragging me so much as following me out the door. Rome holds its very own beer fest annually in Heritage Park. If you’re not into beer, there are plenty of events that revolve around the food. Check out the Atlanta Food Truck Park or the Rome Roast on the River.
- Art Shows, Festivals, and More. Art shows are a great way to promote local artists and contribute directly to your community. Inspiration and feedback are key for artists and buying art from a local artist keeps them producing. Artists very often rely on festivals and shows for their livelihood. So if you see something you like, don’t take a picture with your phone or try to recreate a homemade version. Get yourself something unique and one of a kind from the person that created it. A lot of art shows are also fundraisers for a charitable cause, so sometimes you’re getting something great for yourself and doing something good for others at the same time.
Georgia hosts dozens of art festivals throughout the year, from galleries to arts and crafts fairs. May through July, Rome is playing host to a selection of pianos, artfully decorated by local artists, that will be displayed on the downtown sidewalks. The pianos will be donated locally at the end of their show. A new gallery, Broad Strokes, is also opening up on Broad Street featuring work from local artists.
- Runs for Everyone. Almost every city seems to be hosting runs these days, whether it’s a Tough Mudder run that sends you through an obstacle course made trickier by doing it in the mud, or a color run where competitors are blasted with color as they sprint by. There are all types, including runs organized strictly for women. These runs are a great way to be active, have a good time, accomplish something, and make new friends all at once! Some are more challenging than others, but all ensure a good time.
- Listen to the Music. Support your local music scene! Atlanta has boasted a bright, soaring music scene for years now. From hip-hop to death metal, Atlanta has something for everyone; all types of artists record, live, and play in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Cartersville and Rome both have venues that offer live music several nights a week where you can catch your friendly neighborhood garage band or singer/songwriter. Atlanta hosts uncountable concerts and music festivals every year, most notably the Shaky Knees Fest and Music Midtown. There is almost always live music at any of the spring or summer festivities you attend across Georgia, from the National Mayhaw Festival in Colquitt to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon.
Get out there and get to know your community while you have a great time, enjoy great food, explore new interests, and broaden your horizon!