April 29, 2007
Liz published this at 11:46 pm
Where We Could Be Who We Are
When I was kid I used to hide out in my room or in the basement to play music and dance, or paint all afternoon. If my friend, Craig, was around we’d do the same, find a place where we could be who we are without the world telling us what to do.
We were just two, but were a community of like-minded thinkers. When the other kids came over, we were more.
How to Make Room for a Community
I don’t think anyone can build a community. Community is an idea, a feeling, an agreement. It’s sweet and tenuous and only lasts as lightly and long as it is respected. It’s an investment, that it takes time and patience. When I came here I knew a little bit about how to do it, but learned most of what I know from the folks who come to visit.
10 Things about Making Room for a Community
- A community needs a high-trust environment. A high-trust environment means being there when folks need a friend or a teacher. It means having a vision and set of principles that they can count on being the same tomorrow.
- A community has plenty of room for folks to be who we are. When we’re with friends we don’t have to self-conscious or guarded. In a community, I like the way you see me. No one puts people in boxes or steps on their feelings.
- To grow a community, be a guide alongside — not the sage on the stage. Set aside the instruction manual writing. Stop teaching your friends and start learning iwth with them.
- Have conversations that are about them. Ask how they’re doing, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and then listen. When you’re done. Listen again.
- Reach out to everyone, every chance that you get. When someone says “hello,” answer “how can I help?”
- Look for reasons to start conversations. Invite people in. When someone visits make that person a friend.
- When you hear a story about another person, put your own name in the story before you choose to believe it.
- Know that folks make mistakes and that some do so on purpose. Know which mistakes are the ones that won’t work in your community and make sure that you never allow them. Dislike the act, not the person.
- Talk about things that are fun, engaging, and refreshing to talk about. Give people a chance to play once in a while.
- Keep your head and heart together and always about the people who visit.
Those are the basics of making room for a community. It’s a lot like opening your mind and inviting people to be who they are.
–ME “Liz” Strauss