two observations, part two: activism and community

I have no idea if this observation can be said to accurately compare New York and Toronto, or is peculiar to New York and my Toronto experience is more common.

Since becoming active in the war resisters movement in Canada, I find myself part of a community of activists, people who know each other from all different related movements, see each other at all different events, and who regularly socialize together.

Political meetings and events almost always have a social component, and people regularly go out together after the event.

We never did this in New York.

In successive cycles of activism in New York City - reproductive rights, sexual assault, youth issues, sexual assault (different work) and domestic violence, AIDS work (briefly) and back to reproductive rights again - I never experienced this.

I always made a friend or two through these various groups, including some close and lasting friendships. But the group as a whole didn't socialize. After the meeting, we all went our separate ways. The most you'd do is walk with someone out of the meeting to the subway.

The coordinating committee of the Haven Coalition often met at coffee shops. We lived and worked in far-flung corners of the city, so we tried to share the travel burden. But even then, we'd have a meal together, and we'd talk and laugh a little, but when the meeting was over, it was over.

Here, a meeting ends, and people go to a pub. Not everyone goes every time, but a gathering place is announced, and everyone is welcome.

It took me a while to adjust. I used to attend weekly meetings but mostly kept to myself. As I've adjusted to the social aspect, I've made more friends, and I'm happier. Funny how that works.

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