Image: Nancy Margulies, The World Cafe Foundation
Community is the foundation of my work: building communities of ideas and idealists. Whether I am leading a retreat, delivering a keynote to a thousand people, or facilitating a workshop at a conference, I design the experience to build community, connections, and shared purpose.
One of the simplest community-building exercises I use is to copy each of the following quotes on to different colored paper (the same color for each quote) and distribute them randomly among group participants. People first find others with the same quote (same color paper), discuss the quote, and explore its individual and organizational connections. Then they form mixed quote groups where each person shares his/her quote and talks about the different meanings and connections it held for others in their initial quote group. Through this simple rotating conversation, individuals learn more about building community as they create community with others.
After this exploration, it becomes easier for a group to develop its own community, the purpose it wants to pursue, and the norms and values to guide its pursuit.
“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.”
“The team exists to accomplish a result. The community exists to support its members while they fulfill their purpose. . . . When partnerships, management teams, and organizations build communities, they tap into a greater and deeper reservoir of courage, wisdom, and productivity.”
“In most vital organizations, there is a common bond of interdependence, mutual interest, interlocking contributions, and simple joy.”
“True belonging is born of relationships not only to one another but to a place of shared responsibilities and benefits. We love not so much what we have acquired as what we have made and whom we have made it with.”
“Individuality doesn’t just mean individualism—standing alone. It means developing one’s unique gifts, and being able to share them for the enjoyment of oneself and others.”
—Frances Moore Lappe
“The process of really being with other people in a safe, supportive situation can actually change who we think we are. . . . And as we grow closer to the essence of who we are, we tend to take more responsibility for our neighbors and our planet.”
“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.”
“We know that where community exists in confers upon its members identity, a sense of belonging, and a measure of security. . . . Communities are the ground-level generators
and preservers of values and ethical systems.”
Pseudocommunity is “an unconscious, gentle process whereby people who want to be loving attempt to be so by telling little white lies, by withholding some of the truth about themselves and their feelings in order to avoid conflict. Pseudocommunity is conflict-avoiding; true community is conflict-resolving.”
—M. Scott Peck
“The greatest challenge of community life is to create synthesis, embracing diversity in a unified whole, resolving differences with the healing spirit of love and dedication to the good of the whole.”
—Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson
“Equality comes in realizing that we are all doing different jobs for a common purpose. That is the aim behind any community. The very name community means let’s come together to recognize the unity. Come ... unity.”
“Ritual affirms the common patterns, the values, the shared joys, risks, sorrows, and changes that bind a community together. Ritual links together our ancestors and descendants, those who went before with those will come after us.”