Exploring Community

Exploring Community These days, 'community' might as well be my middle name. And, I'm happy to report, it's a topic that just doesn't seem to get old. Here's one aspect of community I've been thinking about lately:

It goes without saying that what a community looks like, how it's defined, as well as what it feels like to belong to that community, is unique to each person and each community. This could be said for in-person as well as online communities; in fact last week I had an interesting conversation with some folks building an online community for Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters' food education program, and I was struck by how their online community looks, feels, behaves and interacts so differently from the one I manage on OpenIDEO.

The topic of community also came up at IDEO recently, most notably on a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard in a bathroom in the SF office (funny enough, I've written about this bathroom before!). What I love about this image is that it very humorously reminds us that being a part of a community feels different for everyone. From informal recognition to bonding through adversity (with or without the bear hugs), this exercise proves that there's no shortage of answers when we're asking about community!

Although every community may be unique, when I look at this quick snapshot a few key tenets do bubble up to the surface:

  • inclusiveness andĀ a sense of belonging;
  • common experiences or understanding;
  • respect andĀ appreciation;
  • humor; and,
  • swag (of course!)

While each community may serve its own population, focus on a specific cause or mission, or adhere to different norms or standards, I actually believe that one set of guiding principles can hold true for all communities: make me feel welcome, invite me to join in, validate my contributions, help me have fun, and give me the chance to share my community pride.

It's possible that I'm oversimplifying, but I don't actually think by much. I can attest that these are principles that I try to bring to my interactions with the OpenIDEO community everyday, not to mention the "real life" communities I belong to (family, friends, school etc).

What do you think? Do these principles ring true for you and the communities you belong to? What's missing? I'm curious to hear what you think.

And of course, as my friend Athena recently shared, when all else fails...

communityguidelines

These days, 'community' might as well be my middle name. And amazingly, it's a topic that doesn't get old to me.
It goes without saying that what a community looks like, as well as what it feels like to belong to a community, is unique for each person. This week I had an interesting conversation with someone building an online community for Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters' food education program, and I was struck by how their online community looks, feels, behaves and interacts so differently from the one I manage on OpenIDEO.
These days I'm particularly interested in the distinction between online and in-person communities, and the potential for intersection between the two. Even in my online community work, I often try to remind myself to think about how I might connect our virtual community members together in-person. Easier said than done, but something I'm currently churning through in my head.
The topic of community came up at IDEO this week, most notably on a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard in the SF office (funny enough, I've written about this bathroom before!). What I love about this image is that it very honestly and humorously reminds us that building a strong community is not one-size-fits-all. After all, as this exercise proves, you can pose this question and we're literally running out of room on the chalkboard!
But then again, when I look at this quick snapshot, a few key tenets bubble up to the surface:
- inclusiveness
- a sense of belonging
- common experiences or understanding
- respect
- appreciation
So are communities really that unique? Is it possible that one set of guiding principles could hold true for communities across the board? I think it's a bit more complex than that. But it could be fair to say that all people, regardless of their interests, backgrounds, geographies or experiences would like to be part of a community that operates according to these tenets. So while it's not perfect, I'd say it's a great place to start.
As my friend Athena recently shared on Instagram