Why is building community important to me?
Information is from the following recommended Books:
Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World by Carolyn R. Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen
A Home for the Heart: A Practical Guide to Intimate and Social Relationships by Charlotte Sophia Kasl
The Examined Life:
What are our thoughts on Community?
We live in a culture: What messages do we get?
What resonates within?
Formulate our own Vision for Building Community in our lives
Practice building community within our group
With which of the following do you identify?
The authors learned...
People yearn for community
People don't know how to begin creating the kind of community they long for
Some are nostalgic for "the good old days" of their youth
Others fled community they felt was stifling, or hypocritical.
Others believe they have to wait until they have enough money or the right people to create community.
Only two or three generations ago, community was a fact of life for most people.
Traditional Community was defined primarily by blood-ties, place and necessity. Benefits of Traditional Community: promoted commitment and caring, individuals were recognized, and there for each other in times of need, even if they were not liked, provided as sense of security and well-being, cohesiveness and unconditional support.
1. American culture savors freedom, autonomy, finding our own way, not having to answer to anyone, breaking away from old, limiting structures, dogmas and attitudes, pushing forward to new frontiers.
2. From A Home for the Heart: The values that permeate cultures and societies lay the foundation for personal relationships. When community is built on a life-loving spirituality that tolerates differences and supports people in their personal evolution, we are likely to see a deeper capacity for love and intimacy than societies where conformity, status, position and material possessions are a fundamental value.
3. Cars, television, mobility, our busy lives
Community is a dynamic whole that emerges when a group of people:
Participate in common practices
Depend upon one another
Make decisions together
Identify themselves as part of something larger than the sum of their individual relationships; and
Commit themselves for the long-term to their own, one another's and the group's well-being.
Share these values: commitment, trust, honesty, compassion and respect.
The demise of old-style communities offers an unprecedented opportunity to create new models of community based on shared intrinsic values rather than external threat and obligation; based on choice, not entirely defined by where you live.
Conscious Community emphasizes member's needs for personal expression, growth, and transformation. Nurtures in each of its members the unfolding from within that allows them to become more fully who they are, and it nurtures it's own unfolding as well.
People who want community have to find new ways of creating it for themselves.
Building community takes time and continuity as well as openness to personal sharing.
How Can We Create Community?
Let's begin by taking a look at Community in our own lives.
1. Taking Stock
What are you looking for?
Remember times when you felt connected and supported.
Jot down what appeals to you about each memory.
Get a feel for the qualities you desire in community.
Notice you already have some sense of community in your life.
Fill out survey.
Share in Large Group: What insights did you have?
Draw a circle in the center labeled with your name. Draw circles around it with names of those you connect with personally, closer or farther from you, depending on degree. Highlight each circle as to frequency: i.e. yellow = often, blue = occasionally, etc. Indicate which circles are linked by drawing connecting dotted lines.
This is your life at the moment. It is where you are on your journey. Do you want more connections, or to deepen the relationships you have? Or both? Use this diagram to help you start making decisions about whether to rejuvenate your current support network, create a new one, or combine old and new. Try repeating this diagramming exercise six months or a year from now to notice how - or whether - this network has changed.
The ability to enrich your circle often relates to the balance you have between knowing yourself, understanding others and creating a bond between you and other people.
2. Personal Requirements
Keep in Mind: Building community takes time and continuity as well as openness to personal sharing. Community begins with one-to-one relationships, the most basic being your relationship with self. Important personal qualities are: a healthy sense of self, openness and flexibility, sincere interest in others, willingness to practice skills that enhance community such as communication and conflict resolution, willingness to give and receive, commitment to see it through.Recommend: A Home for the Heart: A Practical Guide to Intimate and Social Relationships
If you are seeking greater love and intimacy in your life, you might ask yourself how much time you give to growing, reaching out to others, and nurturing your relationships.
To increase intimacy in your life, start by becoming aware of how you connect with others. Imagine a connection meter ranging from intimately connected to boring and distant. We can learn skills that will make a profound difference in our relationships, but we also need to accept that we will never connect equally with all people and that's perfectly alright.
All our relationships - past, present, and future - can be seen as a mosaic forming a whole. The care we give to any one of them affects the quality of them all. It's not so much that we have relationships; it's the nature of how we relate to others, and how we allow others to live in us. Our well-being relates to the quality of the whole circle, not any one relationship.
3. Overcoming Resistance
4. Reaching Out
You can deepen a sense of community by the quality of relating you practice and the types of interactions you support.
We create intimacy and move beyond fear when we report our internal experience. Revealing our inner voices seems so simple, yet it's illusive because we come from a culture that teaches us to get it right, perform, and have our act together before we speak. But intimacy is not about performance. It's about telling the truth, staying present and revealing our inner world as it unfolds before us.
The inner experience of listening includes the ability to relax inside, put one's agenda aside and be present. You will be amazed at the differences in your life when you get centered enough to listen well and speak from your heart.
What is important in your life right now?
What do you do in your free time?
What are you proud of having done in your life?
What brought you to voluntary simplicity?
What are you working on right now?
How do you feel about your relationship circle? What are you glad about? What's missing?
Next, let's look more closely at the Voluntary Simplicity Group.
To judge your community, check its dimensions. A community that's developed significantly in all three will feel like community, if not, or if only slightly in one dimension, it will feel flat and leave you longing for more.
Length: how long and how committed are you to continuing?
Breadth: how many facets of life do you share and how wide a range of people and experiences do you include?
Depth: how deeply, how thoroughly or intimately do you share?
Acknowledge this Community: the San Diego Voluntary Simplicity Group.
We have been meeting for 7 years! Next month begins our 8th.
Acknowledge Volunteers: greeter, personal testimony, facilitator, topic leaders, panel members, closing, steering committee members, conference volunteers, info table volunteers, webmeister and contributors to our new website, co-chairs
Community is many things, but the underlying theme is the feeling of being valued, of feeling accepted, of being cared for. Without community, we will all feel alone and insecure and continue to see life as a battleground in which we must continue working, competing and accumulating things.
--Cecile Andrews, Author of The circle of Simplicity
Americans as a culture are releasing an old way of perceiving themselves and opening to a new one, and you are helping. As you acknowledge your yearning for community and take the risk of acting on this, you change the culture.
You may feel daunted by the task of creating community in a culture that does not value the time this takes or the process required. But remember that each time you call a group together to reflect and celebrate, or risk greater honesty in a circle of friends or work team, you are changing the culture - and making it that much easier for others, and yourself, to build community in the future. Also remember that you are not taking these risks alone.