Connecting local responses around the world
Jim Diers A community is a group of people who identify with and support one another.
What is a community to me?
I’m part of more than one community: my two choirs, the group at my gym, my family, several good friends, where I see a one-to-one relationship as a community too.
Let’s take my two very different choirs as an example.
The first I was asked to join, because my partner already was singing there and they discovered I had a good singing voice. It is a group of friends and it is the first group in my life I felt belonging to. (By then I was 50 years old!).
They accept me as I am, I accept them as they are. And most important of all: I accepted them to like me. My self-acceptance helped me to be part of this choir-community. And even though I want to quit because of several reasons, I have a hard time doing that because I love them all, one by one.
The second choir I asked to join myself because of the more musical challenge I need. I met the admission requirements and started. First I didn’t feel part of this community. It seemed the others didn’t accept me, I felt small because I thought they were far more better than I was. I almost quit, because I didn’t feel belonging. A new director came, I lost my fear and my thoughts of not being good enough (which came from the head). Now I am able to sing from the heart. And now I feel belonging to this second choir-community too, although in a different way compared to the other choir.
Of course, this story is not about singing, it is about the feeling to belong. When do I feel I belong? When I accept myself, when I accept that others like or love me, when I can be with my whole heart.
This platform of the Constellation is a community too, but it is not said that I am part of that community just because it is there. To be honest, I don’t feel part of this community yet. That feeling can grow along with my doing the online SALT-course and along with getting in personal contact with others who are part of The Constellation. It is only then that I can connect from my heart and feel belonging, else a platform is just a technical vehicle for me. Like a car is a vehicle to get from A to B, the technique of Facebook and Ning is a vehicle to connect with the communities I want to be part of. I’m not able to feel belonging to technique, to zero’s and one’s.
The reason I post these thoughts, is because Rituu Nanda (member of the Global Support Team of The Constellation) asked me to do so. After a Skype-call, in which we could personally connect, I chose to write a reaction to the question of Geoff Parcell. Without Rituu reaching out to me I would never have done this.
As Mark Zuckerberg (the long article you can read via the link in the post of Geoff) speaks about a purpose, it seems he needs a purpose because of the (coincidental?) existence of Facebook: because of the always developing technique, we need a purpose that also develops in time. For me it seems his purpose changes in time, along with his personal growth.
Everyone has the right for personal growth but I want my own pace of my personal growth. That has to come from inside out. The same way a community needs to grow from inside out. It cannot be that the technique dictates how communities are formed. Technique can only facilitate and give the freedom to use it. I use my car to drive to my mother or I use the phone to call her, just as I use technique to get in contact with you, on this platform. It is your freedom of choice if you will respond or not.
Do I want to be part of the global community Mark Zuckerberg speaks about? His wishful thinking is not mine and his purpose is not necessarily mine. I have my own wishful thinking and my own purpose, like every individual on this earth. What I like Mark and his Facebook to do, is to facilitate my technical needs to build my own communities. And if that happens to become a global community so be it. Then it is my global community and not Mark’s. Although, of course he can be part of it if he chooses to do so!
What is a community to me?
Here is my answer: a community is a group of people who want to belong together around a certain topic or a same state of mind.
When do I want to belong? When I feel connected, if I feel the people and their hearts, if I feel at ease to be me.
Richard Holmes on twitter
A place where you feel welcome and somewhere you feel you can call home.
Wow! what a lot of great ideas on communities! I particularly liked the succinct definition from Moses “Community is Common unity of the people.” For me community is all about people and the way they interact.
Marie challenged me to share what I think. I held off to give other people a chance to share and now its my turn.
In terms of Zuckerberg’s ideas, I don't believe Facebook is a community builder, and it is unlikely to bring the world closer together. But it does provide a place where people can build or maintain connections and communities. Many of the groups I see on Facebook though I would describe as egocentric rather than collaborative for common good. The internet has groups that have evil intent as well as good. It can spread disinformation as well as help communication. Let’s assume that peoples intent for forming a community is for the greater good.
Just what is a meaningful community?
I remember when I was in the corporate world and we were creating online networks, even before Facebook existed, then we recognised different types of communities. There were Communities of Interest which shared something in common such as a sports team for instance, Communities of Practice which shared a common job discipline and hence benefited from sharing tools and processes. Finally Communities of Commitment shared a common goal and were committed to delivering it. The Constellation’s communities and our aspirations for the communities we work with are more like the latter.
I like Phil Forth’s earlier posting on this site where he picks out three key characteristics, a common objective or dream, they use their own resources together and they can agree to take action together. I’d perhaps add one more self-belief. I have been impressed by communities that have gone from feeling like victims (“someone ought to do something about this for us”) to realising they have the resourcefulness to fix it for themselves. The individuals that take part grow immeasurably in self esteem.
If I think about the community I live within ( a small village nestled on a hillside in Somerset, UK) then building the community is multi-faceted, there is no single goal or dream beyond building a resilient community of people that I know I can depend on when the need is there. We have discussed what is important to us and work together in small groups according to our preferences and abilities. So there are a number of goals. As we develop community spirit we have moved beyond our basic needs and have groups that maintain the footpaths around the village, a group that is sharing and learning about local history, a group that works together on crafts, and a subgroup trying to improve broadband speeds in the village. As well as being very sociable it helps us build trust and a knowledge of each other’s capabilities so we can depend on each other in a crisis.