Foreign exchange: A global view

Read your daily newspaper or turn on the nightly news and you’ll be hard-pressed not to come across a mention of community.

The intensification of racism and partisan volatility consistently spurs talk of divided and united communities. An upswing in urbanism has city leaders creating walkable communities, and millennials’ attention to volunteerism has that age group spending considerable time giving back to the community.

While discussing an upcoming excursion to BookExpo America in New York and then to Europe with my Ford Motor Company Fund editor, he asked, “How do people define community?” Wheels turning, he added, “What if, while you are traveling, you ask people what community means to them and who makes up their community?”

I could see why he was curious. Community is an integral part of the Ford Fund, which contributed $33 million to community life last year alone.

For my part, community was an easily definable term: It was family, friends, neighbors and fellow church congregants. Intrigued that I would learn more, I agreed to the story concept.

The plan was simple: After my short trip to the BookExpo, my 23-year-old niece, Dannielle, and I would travel to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Prague, among other cities, and come back with fascinating stories to tell.

And that’s what happened. However, conversations with strangers and friends along with a terror attack, travel delays and theft taught me more about community than I imagined.

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