In the coming weeks I am going to discuss the how-tos of building community that will enhance your life and the lives of others. Why? Because I believe as the Boomers retire, the children of the Gen Xers begin to graduate from high schools and the Millennials finally look up from their computers, all will be asking, "What next?". Everyone will want to know how to make connections and lead meaningful and purposeful lives.
Community is a unified group of people who acknowledge a joint ownership and participation in a declared society. Ownership and participation means showing up and doing the work necessary to keep the community functioning and thriving. How do you create that? A group or individual needs a vision for the community. Okay, those are basic definition but what is the real world example. Lets take something small and relatively easy.
Say you want to be part of a book club. You could search out one on the web or check out your local library to learn of any existing book clubs in your area. But you have a vision and that vision includes creating a new book club in your neighborhood. That could be a goal in and of itself but you might want to flesh out your vision a bit more. Does you vision for the book club mean getting together once a month to drink a glass of wine, eat a few munchies while discussing latest popular culture release? Or do you want to read serious works of fiction and non-fiction and have monthly in depth discussions with adroit enthusiast?
To be successful, you must be clear about what you are trying to accomplish and why. If the book club is a tool to create opportunities for companionship then what you read is not the driving force behind the meetings. On the other hand if it is all about "the book" then it is important for you to be clear when sharing your vision with others. The struggle comes in forming community when the majority of the members don't have a common vision. To succeed it is necessary for everyone to row the boat in the same direction.
In a previous post I mentioned our Community Lake Preservation group and the success we have had in caring for and maintaining our lake. It is my belief that the success behind this group lies in the fact that everyone had a common vision. Anytime anyone went off course, they were gently steered back to our common vision of caring for the lake. Whether you are establishing a book club, a Girl Scout troop, a Moms of Multiples group, a neighborhood association or a neighborhood softball team, it is critical to have a clear vision.
As a first step of creating community, I encourage you to articulate your vision giving voice to the "why" behind your vision.