Living in Holyoke for over four years has given me a certain insight to the town and its commonwealth. The first and most visible example of this is education. Here in Holyoke, we have a few different opportunities for learning. This includes our elementary school, junior high school, and high school. While these are the obvious types of education, there is also the less noticed kind of education. This ranges everywhere from our youth group (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) to our opportunities at the hospital such as CPR classes or EMT classes. These options all provide very good opportunities for learning and growth as an individual.
Another example of the Commonwealth in Holyoke is the sense of place. Sense of place essentially means you feel like you belong and it is a place that is set apart from others because of it. I moved to this rural community four and a half years ago and I instantly sensed the family I was coming in to. Here, everyone takes care of each other whether that is through making meals for others after they’ve had surgery or helping a neighbor with a project. Everyone here is a proud Holyokean and has a strong sense of community pride to go with it.
A third example of this Commonwealth is the food-shed side of the spectrum. Here in Holyoke we have many surrounding fields that grow everything from lettuce and tomatoes to wheat, corn and sugar beets. Not only are there agricultural crops but there are also livestock that supports our community. Every time someone goes into our local grocery store, they are surrounded by homegrown food and other products from our area. There is a deli that sells meat from the local ranchers and, depending on the time of year, there is homegrown lettuce and corn in the vegetable section. Our family buys eggs from neighbors and beef from friends. While this happens in our family there is also the bigger view of small businesses and shopping locally. Our restaurants use these goods as well which allows our community to support itself. All of this results in a community that supports each other both in times of need, and day to day life.