Did you know that local context influences identity and sense of well-being? Your sense of connection to your community of residence can make a big difference to your lived experience and sense of wellness.
So what does it take to become a local?
Having moved many times as a child and an adult, I understand that this question is not easily answered. The transition from outsider to local is rarely smooth or rapid. There is a dance between time spent in, participation in and knowledge of a community that contributes to both the feeling of being a local and the sense of being accepted as a local.
Length of time
Firstly, the length of time you have personally spent in one area is no guarantee of ‘being a local’.
In many rural areas, you are only considered to be a local when you have an established generational history. In such a case, acceptance comes when your family has been connected with a locality for several generations. This acceptance, however, may come with an unhelpful reputation that may be difficult to dislodge. You may find yourself ‘tarred’ with the family brush.
Being the first generation in a locality can be even tougher as strangers are often viewed with suspicion! Having a pre-existing connection with a local can help to ease the transition and pave the way for acceptance in a community, but again, there are no guarantees.
Secondly, ‘being a local’ often involves being aware of and participating in the customs, traditions and accepted understandings of how life works. This may require attending local functions and taking on particular roles, out of which formal and informal connections with ‘locals’ can develop. A willingness to both give and receive in this context are important processes in establishing community connection.
Awareness of community context
Thirdly, knowledge of the history and the landscape can increase your chances of becoming a local. Physical environment and area-specific events shape a community’s identity. Showing interest in both can pave the way for being more closely connected with and accepted within a community.
Do you feel local enough?
Just moved or have been settled for a while? Want to feel more connected in your community? Contact us to find out how we can help!