Atlantis Alumni

Friday, June 15, 2007

Small Town Social Dynamics

I wonder if the social dynamics of all small towns are like those here in Cherry Grove. Here we have a number of long established social groupings organized around shared interests in things like entertainment, drag, and various community volunteer organizations, such as the volunteer fire department, the community association, etc. For the newcomer, while most of these groups are open to anyone, some of these groupings are harder to break into than others. A few are, for all intents and purposes, closed to new members. All of them share in common a group dynamic that requires conformity on the part of members and one that is to some degree or another, hostile to individuality. As a result, not everyone who calls Cherry Grove home is a member of one of these social groupings. Some people who have lived here for decades appear to not be connected to any of the established groups. Two of the long-established high profile groups in the Grove, the Arts Project Of Cherry Grove (est. 1948,) and the community association have in recent years been experiencing hard times in terms of membership numbers and finances. Both groups seem powerless to change course and reverse the downward trends in which they are entrapped. One dynamic that is affecting all of the groups in the Grove is the basic fact that there are simply less people here today. The town is no longer quite as popular as a resort destination as it once was. There are a number of reasons for this, but it is a reality that groups should take into account as they struggle to remain viable. With less of a base of people to draw from, it becomes even more important for these groups to be more open and welcoming, and to suppress the natural tendency of the group to demand conformity. They can no longer afford to be quite so choosy in terms of who to admit to the group. It will be interesting to see if these groups are successful in turning things around. It will require jettisoning some old attitudes.

Photo: a scan of an old post card showing Cherry Grove in the 1960s


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