Shared experiences are foundation of community

Last week, Main Street was filled with families, friends and neighbors participating in Cottage Grove’s annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat in the Historic District.

While it was an opportunity to provide local children with a safe trick-or-treating environment, it was also much more than that.

For every child dressed as a superhero, ghost, police officer or firefighter, there was a parent or merchant in costume who was sharing in that experience. While it certainly added to the feeling of fun and festivity, it also sent an important message to our children that we are active participants as neighbors and as a community.

In an age where fewer and fewer people actually know who their neighbors are, and children are spending less and less time playing outside together, we run the risk of developing into isolationists within our own community.

Opportunities like last Thursday’s trick-or-treat night, as well as Saturday’s rollerskating event at the Cottage Grove Armory, provide opportunities to bring community members together and bridge the gaps we sometimes overlook.

On Saturday, rollerskaters of all ages and ability circled around the hardwood floor at the Armory, with some helping shore up younger skaters who were getting their first taste of the roller rink experience.

It’s those moments that lay the foundation of community for our children who, in turn, build on that foundation for the next generation of Grovers.

It’s also those moments that carry over into everyday life and establish connections with others that we may not otherwise have made.

The next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store, you may recognize someone who you helped — or who helped you — from landing skates-up on the Armory hardwood floor.

Or maybe it’s the merchant who made your child smile while dressed as a witch or clown.

Maybe you’ll say something to them; maybe you won’t. Regardless, you have made a connection that otherwise wouldn’t exist without those shared experiences.

Cottage Grove has always done — and continues to do — its best to create those opportunities.

Things like the carousel project, Bohemia Mining Days, farmer’s market, the thriving arts and music scenes, along with community enrichment programs through the library, Chamber of Commerce and local organizations all build a sense of community — and just as importantly, provide an example to our children of what it means to be a member of that community.