When we talk about building community, we start by acknowledging that many of us live in multiple communities. A community is a network of people who share things in common.
We live in communities of place, past, purpose, perspective, and practice.
Neighborhoods, villages, and regions are communities of place. We share common geographies, resources, issues, and possibilities.
Families and ethnicities are communities of past. We share common heritages, languages, cultures, ancestors, and roots.
Companies, organizations, and institutions are communities of purpose. We share common mission, vision, goals, commitments, and interests.
Religious and spiritual traditions, political ideologies and worldviews are communities of perspective. We share common beliefs, stories, and values.
Professional disciplines, crafts, and careers are communities of practice. We share common types of work, knowledge, and learning.
Some of these communities overlap, some intersect, and some are separate and don't connect. We are naturally close to people who belong to the same multiple communities with us. We seek communities where we feel a tangible and visible sense of belonging, engagement, and possibilities for a meaningful life.
The quantity, quality, and reach of our connections in any of these communities depends on how connected people are in each community and how much connecting we do with people in each community.
Our life gets richer when we connect people across our communities. This starts with looking for where connections already exist and then being a bridge between people and groups within the communities in which we belong.
Life is sometimes a journey of discovering and joining new communities. We move, change jobs or careers, change religious or political affiliations, shift in how we look at the world. Technology and the globalization of markets make us more mobile, agile, and curious.
Building community can mean building one of these, multiples of these, and connections between them.
In every case, we are inviting people into the conversations that optimize the possibilities of belonging, engagement, and making a difference. These are the dream conversations, the small acts and gifts conversations, and the invitation conversations.
As communities grow, people are better able to know each other, look out for each other, share with each other, learn from each other, and engage each other in doing what they cannot do alone, apart, or in opposition. Our personal well-being is always related to how we together care for the well-being of the whole.