What is a community? The dictionary defines it as “a feeling of fellowship with others”; in biology, it encompasses “all of the organisms that inhabit a particular area.” Regardless of how philosophical or technical the definition of a community is, the meaning is the same: it is a place in which people work together for a common goal, united by a common interest.
Suffield is indicative of a true community. Our residents care deeply about local issues and work hard to maintain the beauty, history and integrity of the town. Civic engagement is commonplace in Suffield. Often the same residents serve on multiple boards, whether they are active in their church, the Historical Society, Garden Club, Land Conservancy, Friends of the Library, Observer, FOFAH, Scouts, or town committees, just to name a few. Residents are passionate in Suffield, to the point of heated arguments at town meetings (not a rare occurrence). Although we may not be unified in fellowship in every instance, involvement in a community is essential to its success.
The passion with which we have preserved our natural and historical treasures exemplifies our strong interest for the improvement of the community. Few towns in Connecticut, let alone the nation, have a Main Street as beautiful as ours. Over three centuries of houses line the street beside even older trees. We too often take for granted the preservation of the historical heart of our town while driving by at 40 mph whereas walking or biking on Main Street provides a completely different perspective. Visitors from other states and countries marvel at the beauty of Main Street; if only they could see how equally beautiful the remainder of the town is.
One of the best indicators of a community’s strength is its public library, a place especially important to me, where all ages and backgrounds can come together to indulge in their love of books and learning. Kent Memorial Library was one of the first places that I visited as a week-old infant and I have been a devout patron, volunteer, and now employee, ever since. Working at the library has given me an even greater appreciation for the determination of our patrons. Despite the less-than-ideal temporary location on Ffyler Place, patrons continue to check out tens of thousands of books, movies, and audiobooks every year, participate in discussion groups, and attend programs that expand their knowledge. Although the library is currently not in the center of town, I think that it retains its position as the center of our community. And, by the way, September is Library Card Sign-up month so come visit us!
In a world too often brimming with confusion and chaos, Suffield acts as a welcome respite. While national newspaper headlines bear details of the latest terrorist attack or political scandal, our Observer’s front page features the upcoming book sale and Suffield on the Green festival as well as the success of the Little League team. The beauty of Suffield is equally special, and though many teenagers my age complain about the lack of shopping and entertainment venues, there’s something to be said for a community that focuses on the preservation of its culture and history rather than fast food chains and malls. The 350th anniversary in 2020 is the perfect time for everyone in our community to come together and appreciate what our town has accomplished in the past three and a half centuries. After all, a true community that is as special as Suffield is deserves a reason to celebrate!