Community. We use that word a lot when referring to our city. But have you ever really thought about what it means?
I won’t bore you with its Latin, French and Old English roots. You can Google those yourself. But dissecting the word into two parts, comm and unity, is instructive, in my view, even if not 100 percent etymologically correct.
“Comm” suggests commonality. Common possessions or ownership. Common enjoyment. Common interests. Or anything else that we share in common as a group of citizens.
The second part is “unity,” a word that we’re all familiar with. It signifies being integrated, married or joined together, as in the words “united,” unified” or “union.” It also literally means one (the number one) or oneness, as in singleness of heart, mind, spirit or purpose.
So put them together and what have you got? Common oneness. If double negatives in English are doubly bad, then this double positive must be doubly good.
Community means we’re all in it together, all part of an inseparable union. In fact, our nation fought a bloody Civil War to ensure that we would remain just that — a union, a United States — “one Nation under God, indivisible.” And since we’re “married” together with common vows under social contract and covenant, we might as well make the best of it, for what “God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Being joined together or married doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Far from it. But it does mean striving to identify and emphasize the common threads that bind us, working through our differences in constructive rather than destructive ways, and continuing to court one another with genuine demonstrations of love, respect and communion.
On July 25 our Parks and Recreation Department held one of my favorite community-building events of the year at the Boulder City Pool, our 18th annual cardboard boat races for the kids. Entrants constructed “Jurassic World” and dinosaur-themed cardboard boats at home with the help of their parents or older siblings, providing great opportunities for family bonding time. Then all gathered at the public pool to display their creations, compete for prizes for funniest, most original, best movie themed and the Mayor’s awards, and finished the night out in the water by propelling their boats the length of the pool, with the quickest-sinking ship earning the coveted Titanic award.
Just weeks before, in early June, we kicked off the summer together with another fantastic community builder, our Interstate 11 community day. It was all about becoming better acquainted with one another as we biked and hiked our majestic new interstate corridor side by side.
And now, this coming Tuesday, Aug. 7,, we have yet another community-building opportunity with National Night Out. In 1984, National Night Out began as an event where people would simply sit in front of their homes with their porch lights on and talk with their neighbors. Originally, an estimated 2.5 million people in 400 communities across 23 states participated, but in the past 30-plus years, those numbers have ballooned to 40 million participants in over 16,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases around the world.
In Boulder City, we use this event to increase awareness about police, fire and emergency response programs, such as drug prevention, DUI awareness, neighborhood watch, CPR and fire safety, while simultaneously promoting community relationships between neighbors, neighborhoods, law enforcement, firefighters, military and emergency medical services personnel.
As Police Chief Timothy Shea recently told me, part of the “sense of community” we seek to achieve is through positive interactions between our city staff and our citizens, as well as through similar citizen interactions with emergency service providers throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
What a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with our men and women in uniform. To break down barriers of misunderstanding. And to strengthen our sense of comm-unity or common oneness. I invite you to join us for an evening of fun (free food, bounce houses and obstacle courses, amusement rides, K-9 demonstrations and police-fire softball). And, more importantly, an evening of camaraderie and community building.
To truly succeed as a body, we need to be one — a union of citizens with common goals notwithstanding our differences. United. Unified. Hearts knit together in singleness of spirit and purpose. If so, we’re sure to be Numero Uno.
Rod Woodbury is mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.