I’m apart of a very unique community. In 2009, I was introduced to the world of circus arts. I started taking classes on the trapeze, silks, and many other apparatuses. Since then, I’ve performed in many shows and also taught a few classes as well. The organization is called Air Born Aerials, and I’m apart of a community of aerialists. Being apart of a smaller group that is in turn apart of a large group of people, one can see how “organizations are holders of a ‘community of memory'”.
There are aerialists all over the world, and the longer I train and work with aerial arts the more I learn about this community. Arnett (2009) states, “what makes a community of memory possible is not ‘me’, but those who have come before the persons who now work at the telling of a given memory at a given time and emergent new insights that become part of the communicative life recorded in a community of memory”(146). Being apart of my group for so long, I’ve noticed that things “change”. The dynamics are not the same and the group of people shift year after year. I live in a military town, so this is not unusual. Creating this community of memory comes with the new and old people coming together. The goods we protect are safety (first and foremost), tricks, and performances. The safety aspect of the community never changes, but the tricks and performances do. We all like to portray different tricks (maybe from other aerial communities) and our performances change as we grow as aerialists. The performances also change because we fix problems that arise. According to Arnett (2009), “we live in communities that are alive with memory– memory of the past that engages the present and the future”(147).
As with any organization, there can come a point of conflict. The aerial arts is a large community in the world, and each smaller community has their own sense of what is safe. For example, my group doesn’t feel that we should hang equipment from trees or other parts of nature. We believe this because nature is unpredictable and we do everything in our power to be safe. Other communities in the aerial world hang equipment from trees and nature all the time. This creates a “rhetorical interruption” because we do not all “share the same narrative ground” ( Arnett, 2009,p.96).
Say I move and decide to join a new aerial group. They may feel that hanging equipment on trees is all right and this is a normal practice for them. Maybe they haven’t experienced problems, however, my community has taught me that this is “unsafe”. To deal with this interruption, I will have to change my mindset and narrative. Being around a new group of aerialists will help me see that this is not unsafe, but just a different environment to practice aerial.
Arnett, R. C., Harden Fritz, J. M., & Bell, L. M. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles: Sage.