A Lesson in History and Culture

PICTURE MaryGrowing up, my street never changed. In the summer, zinnias bloomed. In the fall, acorns would brush against the concrete pavement as my car glided onto the driveway. Winter lights flashed as dead leaves piled on our porch, and in the spring, bees and pollen and mosquitoes from the river would dance outside my window.

I grew up in a community where people lived in the same house for years. Where neighbors would let me pick the grapefruits and oranges off their backyard trees, and tell me the garage code to let their dogs out when they were at work. My neighbors came over for Christmas, knocked on my door for butter, asked me to pick up oatmeal when they knew I was going to the store, and invite me on fishing trips or bike rides along the river.  When I say I live in Arlington, people react as if they had just bit into a lemon thinking it was an orange. I hear “ghetto,” “ruined,” “integrated,” and “trash,” as if my side of town is just a landfill for everyone’s negativity. People often forget the beauty, the people, the history, and culture that is right at my fingertips.

The Fort Caroline National Memorial holds the history of the Timucua Indians, one of Florida’s first settlers. Walk through and find mounds of oyster shells that touched the hands of these ancient people. Blue Cypress Park holds soccer games, play grounds, nature trails, even a pier to see the St. Johns River where one can bike ride or just sit and watch the sun set. One of my favorites is the Jacksonville Arboretum, where every year they have an annual gathering with music and food that after helping clean the park, one can join in. People often forget the little stores like the Plant Place Nursery, where the owner allowed my mother and her autistic student to volunteer, giving her student the chance to feel as if he was a part of something and have a job.

The community of Arlington holds a necessity to Jacksonville’s history and culture, and no matter where one is from, their community does the same thing.

-Mary Feimi, Junior Editor-in-Chief

Creating Communities

8367182777_4bbbe5eb7fCommunities are an essential part of living. They bring people together and establish a common ground. Too often people are trying desperately to become themselves by taking the parts of others. Communities limit those distractions. They remind people what it is to be united by individual thoughts and beliefs. A community groups like-minded people and gives light to each of their differences.

As a child, I was never a part of many communities. I wasn’t on the soccer team, I didn’t have dance after school. I’d only really been a student and a daughter, not much more. As I grew, I found myself searching for a sense of community. I went on to pursue a study of writing and soon became very close to the literary community. It was a different world, being surrounded by people who shared the same sole purpose as I did. I wanted to write and I wanted to read, and everyone around me wanted the same. I developed many friends with similar interests, and unlike ever before, I felt myself belonging somewhere other than where I was required to belong.

When I was invited to join the Elan staff, I was eager to experience the same sense of community I had recently learned about. What I got instead was life changing.  The lessons I learned about communication and unity educated me on levels far beyond the walls of the classroom. Each of us on the staff were equally as passionate and excited to commit to something bigger than ourselves and we worked together to put on the greatest events, and create the best book we possibly could. The community we developed as a staff, taught us each to be our own leaders, listeners, and achievers.

Each of the communities I have been involved me have helped me grow and mature and as I move forward I hope to not only join other communities and learn from them, but to create my own. Uniting people by their similar interests and impacting them in such a way that they grow and mold into new and better people, ready to open themselves up to the world.

-Briana Lopez, Senior Editor-in-Chief

Dunbar’s 150

Residential NeighborhoodCommunity has many definitions. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a unified group of individuals,” “a group of people with the same interests,” or “a group of people with the same interests [or backgrounds].” These definitions are not mutually exclusive, but extremely varied. First appearing the late 14th century, from Latin, the word was primarily used to mean “a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen,” but also had additional meanings, including “a community of relations or feelings.” The word, in layman’s terms, implies a unification, whether due to geography or interest.

People form and join many communities over the course of their life. Dunbar’s number, which is a limit to the number of true friendships or relationships a person can keep track of, is 150. 150 complex, intricate connections and the emotional ties that come with them.

The average classroom has 30 or so students. If each of those students has 121 friends (150 minus the 29 other students in the classroom), those students combined have 3,630 friends.

The human ability to be so multifaceted that one person can be connected to 150 people is remarkable. Sitting here writing this, I can’t count 150 people I know, much less 150 friends. It is mind boggling that I have that many connections, and it makes me wonder about the people I am connected to, about who of the 150 will stay with me. It makes me wonder about connections I have made and then forgotten. But mostly, it makes me grateful for the ability to share rare, beautiful connections with others who are willing to count me as their 150.

– Zarra Marlowe, Junior Submissions Editor