Finding Community

27 Jun

I partially blame my sisters for being a bad friend. They are who I call when I need to talk to someone, or when I have nothing to say but just want to hear a friendly voice. I’m on vacation with them right now. It feels good to be with people who don’t bat an eye when you watch 4 hours of NCIS reruns, steal food from the hotel free breakfast, and sing along to George Michael in the car – and who will do all these things with you. But we are scattered around the country and only get together twice a year.

One of the reasons moving back to Orange County feels unsettling is because I don’t have a strong community there. I have a small handful of great childhood friends and I have my family. They are my rock and what keeps me grounded. Although we disagree about many things, they provide me with the core – the unwavering faith that things will be all right – that everyone needs in times of change and instability. But I can’t rely on them for everything.

One of the most important things to me about Oakland is that it’s my political community. Oakland is in Alameda County. Alameda County hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1956. About half the county is registered to vote, with about 57% Democrats and 17% Republicans. About half of Orange County is also registered to vote, but with 47% Republicans and 32% Democrat. They haven’t voted for a Democratic president since 1936. I don’t know where to find the progressive political community in Orange County. Not sure what to do.

The other thing I love is the racial diversity and solidarity around being people of color. Oakland is 15% Asian. Orange County, similarly, is 18% Asian. I was surprised to find that both counties have around 30% of residents being foreign-born, with Oakland being slightly fewer actually. Oakland is 22% Latino and Orange County is 34%. The big difference is that Oakland is 36% Black and Orange County is only 2%. This has a huge impact when talking about race, racism, and who belongs.

I don’t expect to re-create a community similar to the one I have in Oakland. Driving distance, lack of public spaces, and spending more time with my family and my partner’s are all things I need to consider. I also have a tendency to be closed off, judgmental, and have Oakland pride that sometimes shows up as snottiness. I’m nervous about trying to build community under these conditions. But I must learn to leave myself open for unexpected friendships and to embrace my Orange County-ness.


One Response to “Finding Community”

  1. Rachel Agana June 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    You can check to find democratic groups in your area. I’m not exactly sure what city you’re in but I did this search and you can fine tune it to your location:

    Good luck! In time you’ll build new connections 🙂

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