In our first article on Community The Value of Community, we discussed the definition and value of a true community. In the next article Loss of Community, we discussed how the loss of community impacts people. And, in this concluding article on Community, we will discuss how you can contribute to building community.

 

Creating a New Community

 

In the first article, we discussed that a community can have any focus, not just people who live near each other. Thus, a person with a strong interest in a particular area may choose to create a new community related to their topic.

 

CMX, an organization of community builders, states that the four keys to creating a new community are: identity, trust, participation, and reward. Without an identity or focus, a community is simply a group of people. Once an identity has been established, a person can begin to draw in members. Trust with those members can be established by allowing them to contribute and share in ownership of the community. This will also help grow their participation and will encourage others to join the community. Lastly, but just as important, members should feel rewarded for their participation. A reward can simply be friendship or support.

 

Getting Involved In Community

 

Often, however, people aren’t looking to create a new community. Instead, they simply want to be a part of existing communities. To achieve this, a person must seek out a community whose purpose aligns with their own goals and interests. Perhaps the person is new to an area and would like to meet others interested in art. In this case, they might seek a Meetup or see if there are any art clubs in the area.

 

At times, people desire to belong to new communities, but they aren’t consciously aware of their own need. Therefore, it is a good idea for a person to take stock of their communities once in awhile. They may wish to ask themselves, “Are the communities that I am currently a member of serving me well?” “Are there other communities where I would gain value?”

 

The answers to these questions are really an assessment of the reward they are receiving and the community focus that they desire.

 

Join & Participate

 

Once a person identifies a community that they want to join, it is important for them to participate. This means that they need to be interested and active, not only with the community, but also with the members of the community. It is important to build one-on-one relationships with individuals in the community as well as the community as a whole.

 

Be Interested

 

Being a member of a community is a two way street. If a person only takes from a community without giving back anything, they are simply a parasite.

 

This is why it is critical to take an interest in others. A person can do that as they go about their daily life. Instead of being self-involved, take time to notice the sales clerk, waitress, hair stylist, or other person who is encountered. It is possible for a person to build a relationship with a person that they see regularly even if it is a brief encounter. All it takes is noticing, asking, listening, and caring.

 

It takes very little of a person’s time to make someone’s day. Sometimes a simple smile or acknowledgement can go a long way toward helping someone feel rewarded.

 

Although smiling isn’t always obvious behind masks, it is possible to let the other person know you are smiling. One woman did just that in a grocery store one day when she stated, “You can’t tell, but I am smiling.” That might be outside some people’s comfort zone. However, each person can find a way that is comfortable to engage with others.

 

Creative Solutions

 

In Six Ways to Build a Solid Community, Rebecca Fernandez talks about finding the right tools and strategies for a community. This is important for any community and also for each person desiring to have strong relationships. Like each community, each person must find the right tools that work for them.

 

Don’t hold back from creative solutions. Creativity is particularly necessary with the current restrictions. Options to consider are one-on-one video calls to build relationships with member of the community. If a relationship with a particular person is critical, a person might choose an in-person meeting.

 

Likewise, a community or person can look for fun relationship building options that work well via video, email, or other mechanism. People can even go crazy and start a pen-pal campaign to encourage relationship building.

 

It is important for people to go outside the norms of what has been done in the past. And, it is even okay to go beyond people’s comfort zones. It might just be that unique mechanism for relationship building that makes a community flourish!