A Community of Warmth and Good Feeling

That’s the best thing about a small town, not that you know everyone, but that you feel like you could.

We briefly touched upon this in our one-week recap video, but as we’ve been meeting more and more people (we are SO BUSY) we have really noticed this notion of a tight-knit community, and it seems like everything else we learn and experience stems from this.

We spent the weekend in Humboldt, a farming town an hour and a half outside of Memphis. The family we hung out with was huge – and seemingly knew everyone in town, and owned many of the buildings and fields. Over and over, they told us they liked living in Humboldt (having lived elsewhere and traveled extensively) because everyone knows each other, everyone helps each other.

The more we talked to people, the more we saw that the community shared their feelings. A member of the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce said:

"Humboldt embodies my favorite thing about a small town; It's warm... It's not an everyday occurrence that you feel arms around you... I love it.

About 4 different groups of people in the town told us we had to go to Sam’s BBQ, because it once burnt down and people who had never even been there came to help rebuild.

We met a librarian in the town as well who grew up there, left and came back. She said she likes working and living in Humboldt because everyone knows you, “it feels warm.” And a library in Memphis, a much bigger city than Humboldt (which isn’t even a city) took so much pride in her job because people in the community would come there and use it as a safe haven; “When there was a heatwave, people without AC came in because we have AC.”

Mike, the owner of a gun store in a rougher area of the city, wouldn’t stop telling us about his town outside of downtown, called Collierville. He emphasized how clean, quiet, and small the community is, in contrast to downtown Memphis, which he saw as full of crime. He didn’t seem to understand why anyone would want to live NOT in Collierville.

Everyone knows each other, and everyone loves that fact. People have manners in the south, everyone told us. People trust their communities and the people they’ve grown up with to help out and solve problems. They believe in their community:

"There’s a quality to the workforce, a quality to the town. It's such a nice place. [Outsiders] don't expect that in a small town, they don't expect that in a rural community, they don't expect that in the South. They don't expect what they get here. You can live here and be comfortable and enjoy a great cost of living and still be close enough to everything you'd want."

Much pride and interpersonal connection stems out of this. But is it also isolating? And how far can manners go? Can small communities solve the problems when the problems are on a national, historic, systemic scale? And is acknowledging a problem and being open to discussion enough?

Lana Meyer