Sense of community is a feeling by an individual that they belong, that there is a mutual respect for each other, and member's needs will be met through a group commitment. I have lived in a variety of cities and the two that were the most different were St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL. In St. Louis there was a sense of community within the area that we lived. There was a sense of belonging, most were middle-class white families so we wore the same clothes and shopped at the same stores, most were Christian so we celebrated the same holidays, and we all attended the same schools. Children were encouraged to participate in school activities and join community sports clubs. Mothers took turns carpooling their children to school and sporting events, and were active in the PTA. Block parties were popular with everyone having a say in the theme and dividing job responsibilities. If there was a death or illness in one of the families, other families would drop off food and offer to take on chores to ease the burden on the family affected. If a family moved away there was a feeling of loss. The four elements of sense of community (membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection) were satisfied (Psychology Sense of Community 1986).
When we moved to Chicago, IL, we experienced a culture shock due to the lack of community involvement. We met a handful of neighbors in the five years that we lived there and there was no sense of belonging or feeling that there would be any assistance given if needed. Children would go to school and play with only a handful of friends. There was no interest in social activities within the community and there was no encouragement or incentive to do anything as a community. Everyone carried on their lives individually with no need for bonding as a group so a sense of community was non-existent.