Communities Create Themselves
There’s a lot of interest these days in building community. It seems to me to be a symptom of our collective isolation and dysfunction of many different symptoms. An attempt to return to what is natural for us social creatures. Community gives us belonging and when we’re rested in that we have the foundation to become what we are meant to be.
However, how we build a community is an interesting phenomenon. In my opinion, you can’t create a community, a community arises on its own terms. It happens organically. A bunch of people with the same values, interests, and beliefs gets together to do something they love, and suddenly something bigger starts to emerge. People start to experience the nourishment of getting to share in a space where they feel safe, welcomed, and seen. Then, the community takes on a life of its own.
I’ve seen many communities in the past years and the ones I see function the best are those that have developed naturally. Communities that were built to be communities feel like they are lacking something to me. You can feel that there’s some kind of motive behind it rather than the underlying well-being of all those in the community to be taken care of.
Communities that come together, building slowly over time, develop a deep intimacy and have a special force that’s moving with them. Since the community has a life of its own- it’s a leaving breathing organism- it’s inherently connected to the movement of the members. The group tracks the process of its inhabitants. There’s not an idealized state, which often comes in the communities that are factory-built. When there are a lot of ideas on what the community represents or what’s best for its members, the life-breath of it is constricted ´so that it can not move with the natural process of the whole.
Hence, being a community leader requires a deep sensitization to the whole group process including him/herself. An important aspect because if the leader(s) is looking at the community as an object, they are separate from the process of the ecosystem. Then, the leader(s) put their unique process on the group, rather than sensing the movement of the system as a whole. This is where people become disempowered or misguided and the group lacks coherence to move forward in a positive direction. Does this ring a bell for anybody? Maybe our political systems, work environments, and/or groups of practice?
It takes great courage, discernment, and poise to be a leader and I have great respect for all those who have shown us a beautiful representation of such. It’s not easy, so I also commend all of those who have tried and fallen short.
I have faith that we’re building new leaders. The leaders of the next generation will have the awareness and capability to manage such complexities that come forth in communities. They will have the courage to change their beliefs, intentions, and trajectory by listening to the group's life-breath. All while, using their expertise to stay tight to why we came together in the first place. The values and essence that brought us into communion.
But it takes more than just the leaders, it takes the sovereignty of all the people. That each person in the community takes responsibility for their process, is a necessity. If the group relies on the leaders to hold the future potential of the community, that community shall be doomed. In order for the organism to receive its full life-breath, everyone must be fully involved in the creative process. This means, attending to his or her unfolding and knowing what support they need from the group in that.
Overall, the process of the community is greater than the sum of its parts. The great aphorism ¨a team is only as good as its worst player¨ hints at this idea. There’s a unique energy that is created when people come together. It’s greater than what everyone is bringing individually. It is a living thing birthed from those who decided to participate. And this is not something we can build like legos. We should spend more time getting together with people we love, doing the things we love, and seeing what happens out of that. Let the communities build themselves.