Thanks to my strengths-guru friend Maureen Monte, who recently reminded me of the essential place that community has in my life, I thought it would be fun to explore the concept of community. Below I’ve posed a number of questions to which I’ve shared my answers. I invite you to consider the questions and to contemplate your answers.
What is community?
My first cut definition had 2 dimensions: 1) a group of people with a shared interest or purpose and 2) a feeling of togetherness with others. A google search expanded the definition to add that a community includes a group of people living in the same place (that part might have been so obvious I didn’t think of it!), and that the feeling of fellowship with others is often the result of shared common attitudes, interests, and goals.
What does community look like to you?
When I think about community, I visualize people connected together. It might be tens of thousands gathered in a venue for a cause they are passionate about. Or, it might be people attending a seasonal festival in their neighborhood to share the experience of joy. Or, it might be just two friends together, maybe they are having a picnic or talking on the phone, or even texting each other. The feeling of community happens in a moment when those engaging together are present with each other.
Why do we create community?
We create community because, as human beings, we have a need for connection, we seek meaning in our lives, and we hunger to make a difference in the world. I’ve created community to move through challenges: I remember when I decided to run a marathon, how my family and friends came together to cheer me on, beyond my wildest imagination. That was the building block that enabled me to find the support I needed when I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. I’ve also created community to generate energy and fully engage: by seeking out and making time to be with others who share similar interests and passions at work, I am more engaged at the office and my creativity and ideas expand.
How do we create community?
I find that community doesn’t just happen. With the marathon, I was clear about my goal and shared it with others, even though I wasn’t entirely sure I could accomplish it. With cancer, my community began to take shape when I honestly shared the fear that I was experiencing. At work, I find that I need to be in action, seeking out others so that we can benefit from each others’ experience and perspectives. It can take an incredible amount of courage to build community – we have to be willing to be vulnerable.
Community takes shape when you are in action toward what you believe is possible. To me the key ingredients for creating community include:
- Connection with your heart energy
- Clarity about passions
- Being vulnerable
- Sharing feelings, ideas and beliefs
- Taking action
- Asking for help
- Helping others
What’s possible when community exists?
Community changes the world. While we each have incredible power to have an impact on the people and things we touch, there is such energy and possibility when 2 or more of us gather together, especially when our intentions are clear and we begin to take steps to create what we envision as possible.