Opinion: “We Are Hingham”

November 23, 2022 By Joanna Dutra

Earlier this year I was asked by the incredible photographer Brooke Bartletta to participate in a community project called We Are Hingham.

I submitted a less-than-flattering black and white photo and some descriptors, and now it is on a banner draped in the football stadium at our high school.

When asked what community means to me, my answer was brief: Everything.

We choose where we live with high expectations of a good life. A community supports each other through life’s obstacles and its accomplishments.

It relishes in the success or anguish of its members, lifting them high up over the group’s shoulders. Any individual’s pain can be better shared, with problems solved and solutions offered.

The family we’re born into and the family we create with the friends we make are knitted together like a colorful quilt. We take that quilt with us when we leave for school and college and travels, through job changes and life changes.

Its pieces reflect the journey we’ve made and are a way of reflecting what we see in ourselves.

Community is not so much a place as it is an idea, an aspiration.

We strive to be better connected with how we relate to one another.

We strive to be communal as we approach our differences, with mutual respect and the ability to listen to differing opinions.

A community is an idea similar to a Field of Dreams: if you build it, Community will come.

It’s a constantly evolving place where everyone is welcome to live with their own dream; friendships sprouting from seeds planted generation to generation – a woven quilt of love and respect.

It’s interesting to look back on my own words which were written last year, before some recent losses of life here in our hamlet. The place many of us call home, Hingham, is hurting right now.

Is a community a reflection of its people? Is it a reflection of its pain?

When I was growing up, I had a card taped to my mirror – on the front was a quote from William James: “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.”

Maybe I was inspired at a young age, but I really don’t think I had an understanding of how much friendships would mean as an adult.

Childhood can be wonderful with its innocence and laughter and absence of worries about the future. We also know it can be the opposite of these things.
But friendship. Well, that’s a more complex and fundamental property of adulthood. It’s critical.

You choose friends, you bring people into your life who share something. You build relationships with their kids and watch them grow – celebrate their milestones as if they’re your own.

In these times, we look to anything and anyone that brings us comfort. Good friends are a solid place to start.

Please check in with your friends, we know the holidays can be challenging. Life itself has been heavy.

As one of my own friends reminded me the other day, it comes at you hard, and it comes at you fast and you never know which one of those things it’s going to be in the next day or the next hour.

We have to stick together. We need each other. I am here for anyone that needs me. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, please reach out if you want a quick pick-me-up. I am here for you. You don’t have to be a close friend.

I believe we are in this world to feel better when we are knit strongly together like a big family.

With love and great respect to your friends and family you value most, I am grateful for you this Thanksgiving.

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