Community. How do we define what a community is? Below is one of many diverse definitions that can be found.
“a unified body of individuals: such as. : the people with common interests living in a particular area. broadly : the area itself. the problems of a large community. : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.”Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Ultimately, for me community is about people, their shared purpose and the relationships which evolve when they come together. Community is diverse and complex. Thinking about your own personal definition of community is a powerful exercise to help shape your own practices and dialogue around community building.
On this page, I have collated a range of resources to guide thinking around why and how we might bring people together, exploring what this might look like in practice.
Being a Community
Developing CommunityWhat brings us together? How can we understand perspectives? What do we want to create?
Building CommunityHow can we be involved? How will we organise ourselves? What are our values?
Connecting CommunityWhat relationships will help us thrive? How can we reach out and get to know others?
Nurturing CommunityHow can we support one another? What are we great at? What helps us thrive?
Growing CommunityWhat are we doing to grow together? How do we want to develop further?
Sustaining CommunityWhat do we need to replenish our community? How do we restore relationships? How can we develop systems to welcome new community members?
Resources to Facilitate Community Building
I have selected three tools that I tend to use when planning to bring community together for different purposes. There are so many excellent resources out there so please share your suggestions in the comment box below if you would like to add others.
A fabulous library of structures can be found here. You can explore the menu to select structures that will generate greater engagement and innovation in gatherings/meetings.
“Liberating Structures are easy-to-learn microstructures that enhance relational coordination and trust. They quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone. Liberating Structures are a disruptive innovation that can replace more controlling or constraining approaches.”Keith McCandless & Henri Lipmanowicz
Whilst Harvard Project Zero’s Thinking Routines may be designed for students they provide a multitude of routines to use with adults too! These enable communities to share thinking through use of simple routines that can be repeated in different contexts.
“Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life.”Harvard Project Zero
For this third selected resource I have chosen an online tool. This platform has the potential to enable interaction and flexible ways of collaborating and creating together. Addressing the needs of communities that come together whilst physically being distanced from one another.
“Miro is your team’s visual platform to connect, collaborate, and create.”Miro
Books to Inspire
Community – The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block
In, ‘Community, The Structure of Belonging’, Peter Block challenges us to think beyond the practicalities of bringing people together in a community. The book encourages deeper thinking about how we can create more meaningful connections and develop an authentic sense of belonging. With many practical examples and anecdotes this is an inspiring read.
“Shift our conversations from the problems of community to the possibility of community.”Peter Block
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
This book really provoked my thinking about how bringing people together, to truly be present and active, is an art form of sorts. There is a host of wonderful anecdotes to get immersed in and these bring the concept of ‘artful gathering’ to life. The author urges deeper thinking about purpose when we bring people together and provides a wealth of examples to activate thinking creatively about the gatherings we host and attend.
“The way we gather matters. Gatherings consume our days and help determine the kind of world we live in, in both our intimate and public realms.”Priya Parker