Culture…Creating Community in Curious Places

Culture is often defined through the definition of exposure to that which raises our intellect, that which makes us greater in knowledge and understanding of the finer things in life. Think opera, think great classics, think the Louvre. Whatever it is that springs to mind, set it aside.

Now think, where can you find culture? Is it still in those well defined structures which often require expensive tickets and fancy clothes? Or is it anywhere you open your eyes to and see through a different lens? What makes it so? Culture to me has easily gone right along with Grey Poupon and and long white gloves. But really, culture is not all tuxes with tails, it is quite appropriately that which surrounds our very lives.

Last night I went to an art opening, not at a museum, not at a gallery, not even at a venue typically arranged for such affairs. I went to a day center for the homeless in our community, the folks that live on the fringes of society while many try to make their way back into the mainstream. You would think that this was odd. You would think this was a nod to the homeless that we really do care. But it was none of that. What was created at this shelter was culture. Culture is defined in so many descriptors as the act of developing intellectual and moral activities….the act of enlightenment, the act of having a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices. In part these are definitions of culture. But what these definitions really are is the set of values which bring a community together.

Simply considered, when we stand a part, we have no culture. When we come together—when we support or at least listen to the ideas and creations of others—then we are much greater, much stronger. We are a community with culture…in the galleries, in the street, and in the homeless shelter.

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