This month marked thirteen years on the road for Jim and I, and I don’t regret a moment of it. As we enter our fourteenth, current events in the U.S. have me thinking about the biggest full-time RVing trade-off: the loss of a geographic community.
The Roots of Community
The dictionary defines “Community” in a few different ways:
The nomadic tribe which Jim and I belong to fits neatly into definition #3:
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.
There’s a true sense of community among people like us who love this lifestyle. Whether full-time or part-time, most RVers really are some of the friendliest, most genuine and welcoming people around. When one of us needs help, RVers come to the rescue to make it right.
Community is also defined as a geographic location where people live, work and dream 24/7.
- a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
- a locality inhabited by such a group.
This is the kind of community where you establish deep ties, the kind of place where Jim and I enjoyed the default life; our old stomping grounds in Eureka, California. Like every town, Eureka and the North Coast where it’s located has its good sides and bad. Between 1998 and 2007, we embraced it all and lived there by choice, despite its flaws.
It was the place where our friends ran for political office, where we knew our neighbors, and where we shopped at businesses owned by others who cared about Humboldt County as much as we did. Things that happened in our neighborhoods, city and county affected all of us, and as entrepreneurs Jim and I did our best to help the area thrive by participating in local clubs and activities and volunteering for various causes.
Loss of Community: the Full-time RVing Trade-Off
Once we hit the road we gained the opportunity to experience other cool communities in beautiful places. But at the same time, we also lost the ability to have deep, meaningful ties to a place that rocks our world, a place filled with people we care about and see on a regular basis.
Sure, we’ve experienced many towns and cities that we keep coming back to:
- Lake City and Fort Collins, Colorado
- Fountain of Youth in Southern California
- Luckenbach and the Texas Hill Country
- Pie Town, New Mexico
And while we love all of those places (and many others), we are still strangers to most people in most towns we enjoy. Sure, we might have some friends in these communities, but we never stay long enough to grow our friendship circle, regularly attend celebrations and events, volunteer, sit on committees or vote in elections.
By leaving when the weather changes or when we get bored–whichever comes first, we surrender the gratifying experience of getting to know people on a deeper level and working toward positive, lasting change in a community, something that begins at the grassroots level.
What Now? Where Does Change Happen?
All of this brings me around to now, fourteen years after we severed ties to that sticks-and-bricks lifestyle. During a time of such great upheaval and uncertainty in this country, it makes me a little melancholy to be disconnected from a place that actually means enough to me to get involved in order to make it better.
But do I want to live in another location on a permanent basis? Heck no! Remember, I said it makes me “a little melancholy,” not “I want to stop traveling” sad.
But can I live with myself if I continue to ignore my civic duty to work toward creating positive, lasting change in the country? Not a chance. I’ve been slacking off long enough.
Now the question begs, what can someone who has a heart filled with wanderlust do to create the kind of country that I want to see? It came to me the other day: I’m starting with a focus on Livingston (Polk County), Texas.
Making a Difference in Livingston, Texas
Why Livingston? For starters, this little East Texas has been our domicile since 2009, thanks to the Escapees RV Club’s member services, like establishing Texas domicile and mail-forwarding. The people who work at Escapees Headquarters and run these services on a day-to-day basis make the lives of thousands of RVers like ours infinitely much easier. We owe them so much for their hard work that allows us to live like we do.
With that in mind, I’ll follow the sage advice of our friend and laughter coach Dave Berman:
“Do the least you can do, then commit to doing at least that much.”
So here’s the least I can do to make the lives of Escapees team members and Polk County citizens easier.
- Fill out the 2020 census
- Follow Polk County government and civic affairs.
- Hold Texas politicians accountable.
- Vote in all elections
- Find local non-profits to support, like Escapees CARE and the SPCA of Polk County
- And . . . ?
If your life is also made easier because of the people who run Escapees RV Club in Livingston, I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Together, even shiftless drifter nomads like us can make a difference in a country that now more than ever needs all the help it can get.