I’ve been giving these questions my attention for 6 months now:

  • What is community?
  • How do we create community?
  • How do I know community when I see it? Especially
    when I’m with people who think, look, and act nothing like me/my groups?

I didn’t go looking for these questions. They found me somehow. Still not entirely certain why I’m so determined to have these conversations although I do know why I love them. These are questions that it’s impossible to be an individual expert at. Woo hoo! My favorite kind!

Here’s what you’ve taught me so far.

Community is:

  • Showing up for someone and freely, gladly giving of yourself. Doesn’t appear to matter whether that person lives in your home (thank you, Daniel Gregory), hours away (thank you, Cathy Gregory), or on the other side of the planet (thank you, Ali Anani).
  • Sharing your struggles, not just your joys, freeing others to do the same (thank you, Cathy Fromme, Bernie DeKoven, Lori Schilling, and Erik Bennion)
  • Trying new things together that you wouldn’t have tried on your own (thank you, Doug Nathan and Bas de Baar)
  • Listening a long time—until you can feel the other person’s perspective within you (thank you, Neil Baker)
  • Moving together in the world, embracing and celebrating differences and commonalities (thank you, Jamal Rahman, Ted Falcon, and Don Mackenzie)
  • A sense of abundance, welcome, and possibility (thank you, friends, neighbors, ancestors, and kind strangers)
  • Certainty within uncertainty. I’m still not certain what will happen (or how or when or why things happen) most days. Yet I’ve learned to be certain about the people who show up to create community. I can trust you when my trust in my individual self fails me. That’s all the certainty I need.
  • Receiving and creating:
    • Love for who you are (thank you, mom, dad, Jen, and extended family)
    • What the universe offers with gratitude and love, most days (thank you, Diane Moore and Lenelle Moise)
    • Spontaneous acts of kindness. Too many to name these days, but off the top of my head, thank you for:
      • Hugging Grady, Joe, Ansel, and Bella daily, Chris Abbas
      • Texting me when cool stuff is happening, Tim Pritchard
      • Our new garden path, Annie Dunne and Steve VanDyke
      • An unexpected birthday gift, Bob Petruska
      • An unexpected holiday card, Kare Anderson
      • Kind words and advice, lovely stranger at the grocery store yesterday

How do we create community?

To me it appears that we don’t create community as individuals. We receive community as individuals and create  community as community. Does that sound weird? Trying again…

In my experience, time spent within self-organizing groups opened my heart, and made it possible for me to wake up and start my days with a sense of community, and eventually come to recognize it within myself and others, instead of feeling empty, not good enough, and searching to find community like I used to. So I suppose my advice would be this: spend more time with the people who open your heart and doing the things that open your heart. Allow yourself to become what you love, do what you suspect you are here to do, and lean strongly on your self-organizing groups—they can handle it. As an individual today, each time a community member shows up, I feel lucky, honored, and blessed to have that person in my life. But I don’t think I create community. We create community together.

Community surrounds and supports us as individuals and creates itself. Become community to create community.

How do I know community when I see it? Especially when I’m with people who think, act, or look nothing like me and my groups?

In every moment I allow myself and support others in feeling this way, we’re in community:

Friend, our closeness is this: anywhere you
put your foot, feel me in the firmness under you
.” – Rumi

When I move in the world on my own, fear is an issue for me and those around me. When we feel the firmness of community—our ground—under our feet, we can move and speak through our fears and move with them and past them as needed. In most moments now, I’m conscious of the question: “Are we sharing our fears, moving through them together, and at times, moving past them?” Each moment the answer becomes yes, it becomes a snap to recognize community. Oh yeah, there we are! It always seems to be an individual fear hiding community from me like a blindfold before my eyes.

You’ve taught me that community actually isn’t something I can lose or that I need to search for. We are community. And when I forget this, you remind me. Lucky me!