A community needs to be vigilant; to continuously deepen and develop
capacities for sharing, cooperating, and growing.
Last week, we looked at the broad topic of community—factors that define, foster, and hinder it.
Let’s drill down a bit.
Have you ever been part of a community that appeared to be stagnating? To outside observers, the challenges would have been imperceptible. But to you, signs popped up. Some minor irritants, perhaps. While others loomed as storm clouds. The challenges could have come from sinister outside forces. Or, the erosion of community may have been the result of an internal complacency. The members got “comfortable” and “took for granted” their community would always be there.
As an example, colleges and universities invest a great deal in recruiting and retaining first-year students. They offer orientations, first-year experience success courses, dedicated counselors, and residences halls. Each strategy has the goal of helping the students to build community, feel comfortable in that community, and return to that community for their second year of college. But what happens that second year? Will resources be invested to “re-recruit” the sophomores—to keep the idea of the college community foremost in their minds? Well, not always.
A community needs to be vigilant; to continuously deepen and develop capacities for sharing, cooperating, and growing. Consider five steps:
- Visualize the purpose, journey, and membership of your community. What “weak signals” exist to indicate the future of your community will not look like the past? What does this future focus tell you?
- Prioritize the resources you will need and the actions required to sustain your community—and make it thrive into the future. What non-negotiable steps do you need to take? What comes first?
- Exorcise that which no longer serves or nourishes your community. How can you minimize or eliminate the pernicious effects? Where does this fit with your prioritization of resources and actions? Who will help you identify these factors? Where will this fit in your prioritization?
- Exercise contributes to the health of body, mind, and spirit of the individual’s health. Community building can be challenging work. How will you and your members maintain your emotional, physical, and spiritual health moving forward? Is this on your list of priorities?
- Realize your visualization. How often will you stop to evaluate your progress? How will you realize if you are faithfully following the four steps above (visualize, prioritize, exorcise, and exercise)?
Video recommendation for the week:
Denver, Colorado has a vibrant social scene on its 16th Street Mall. You will find upright pianos placed along the mall (street side). At any time someone can sit down and an organic, impromptu concert breaks out. Scatter in a few street musicians and the surrounding activity–and you experience energy. Does music have a place in your community? Where are the gathering places for your members to share?
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.