A couple of years ago I purchased a Jeep Wranglers. I've wanted a Jeep since before my kids were born but always felt I needed to have a responsible car. But after my mother died, I finally purchased my "dream" car. Unbeknownst to me with the purchase of my little red Jeep, I joined the Jeep "community"; a group that created a tradition of waving to one another as they pass each on opposite sides of the road. I now do the Jeep Wave.
It's fun to do the Jeep Wave as I come upon another Jeep driver but I am under no illusion that I am part of a community. I am waving to another person who has the same fondness for the Jeep brand. Being part of a community requires more from the individual than having similar tastes in cars.
I believe a community is a unified group of people who acknowledge a joint ownership and participation in society and quite frankly includes a physical component. What do I mean by that? Take FACEBOOK as an example. We can read about the loss of a loved one by one of our friends on FACEBOOK and offer our heartfelt condolences on the site but we can't take our friend's hand or give them a hug. We can't deliver a casserole or take their children for an evening while they get some rest after a trying day at the hospital. I believe one must be physically present from time-to-time in the lives of others to be a community.
Now before you get up in arms about my excluding FACEBOOK as a community, please know that I am a FACEBOOK fan. I have reconnected with high school friends, maintained connection with previous co-workers who have moved on to other jobs and shared pictures with family regularly on this ubiquitous tool. But my point is, FACEBOOK is a tool, a device to enable communication between people. Community doesn't reside in the virtual world.
As we discuss what it means to be part of a community and how we personally can shape our community in a positive way. We must first understand what it takes to create community and be clear on what we are willing to do to make it a place we want to live.